Upon successful completion of the course, students will:
- know and understand the different components of the formal US political system and their relation to each other;
- understand the structural features of the electoral system;
- understand the motives and behavior of key actors, including candidates and the electorate;
- be able to apply such knowledge to specific Congressional races or crucial elements of the Presidential elections.
The 2020 US elections have already been described as the most important elections in history. Whether this is true or not, it is certain that the results of these elections will not only affect the future of the United States, but will have global consequences. This course, jointly organized by the departments of American Studies and Political Science, provides students with an interdisciplinary overview of the American political system and its historical development, with a special focus on the elections. We will discuss the main institutional players in American politics (the presidency, Congress, the Supreme Court, political parties, state governments) as well as the role of other relevant actors, such as interest groups, NGO's, (Super)PACs, and the media. Students will also work in small groups to analyze a particular presidential or congressional race in a swing state. Each team will make a prediction before the elections and hand in a research paper after the elections. The aim of the research paper is to provide a thorough examination of the main factors/forces determining the outcome of the elections in this state and thus to develop an advanced understanding of American elections and politics.