Foundational, institutional, and behavioral features of American political parties and elections.
Elections are the cornerstone of America’s representative democracy. In this course, we will examine U.S. political parties and their role in elections at the local, state and national levels. We will explore the underlying questions regarding political parties in a democratic system, such as:
- Why do we have a two-party system?
- Why do people vote, and why do they vote the way they do?
- What other institutions (such as the media) play a role in our election process, and how?
- What role does money play, particularly the way we regulate campaign finance?
- How fair are our elections, and what might we do to improve them?
This course is designed to provide you with the skills to achieve the following:
- Understand and apply the key debates and theories about the roles and possibilities surrounding political parties and elections in the U.S.
- Understand the key actors and their interactions in key policy debates
- Understand the key debates, current trends, and issues in our two-party system, as well as the tradeoffs and problems inherent in the system
- Critically evaluate parties and elections as linkage institutions – are they effective in what they do, and why or why not?
This course can be applied toward:
POLS 101 (American Government and Politics).
Textbooks and Materials
Textbooks and materials can be purchased at the CSU Bookstore unless otherwise indicated.
- Party Politics in America, 17th Ed. (2017)
Hershey, Marjorie Randon
- Political Participation in the United States, 3rd Ed. (2000)
Conway, M. Margaret
Additional articles will be posted on Canvas.
Megan Ruxton received her PhD in political science in May 2017, and is an instructor in political science at Colorado State University. Her research interests focus on the connections and interactions between the public and government in the form of public opinion, trust, participation and political behavior, particularly in the area of environmental policy. She has taught courses in American politics, statistical methods and environmental politics