API216 Elections and Public Opinion
Pippa Norris API-216 www.pippanorris.com




Elections & Public Opinion

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For updated materials check the API216 class notes and resources

Fall 2004


Aims and objectives: This course provides the core conceptual tools, theoretical insights, and practical skills for analyzing elections, voting behavior, and public opinion. It is designed for careers in public opinion polling and survey research, campaign management, broadcasting and journalism, and as the foundation for policy analysis research.

The course is split vertically. Part I on Mondays provides the theoretical framework for understanding public opinion and voting behavior including the nature of mass beliefs, political participation,  political participation, value change, elections and parties, social cleavages and partisan orientations, political attitudes and support for the political system, the media and campaign, and the nature of public opinion. It covers these issues by comparing the United States with other major comparable postindustrial societies (particularly France, Germany, Britain, and Italy), as well as across a broader range of both established and newer democracies.

Part II on Wednesdays provides analytical and statistical research skills, working hands-on from shared datasets (for example, the American National Election Survey, the U.S. General Social Survey, the Eurobarometer, the European Social Survey, the Afro-barometer, the World Values Survey, the International Social Survey Program, or equivalent). Students acquire the skills to use these resources using the SPSS statistical package for individual projects. The class covers issues of good research design, theory construction, model building, and hypothesis-testing; survey data sources; the appropriate statistical techniques for analyzing categorical and continuous survey data; and the professional presentation of results. Familiarity with the basic concepts of statistical inference is recommended, although no prior familiarity with SPSS is assumed.  

Copyright 2004 Pippa Norris, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge MA 02138. www.pippanorris.com

Last updated 11/28/2009