Political Science 1 | Fall 2022
Election Research Assignment
Your task for this assignment is to apply what you have learned about Congress and elections to investigate and analyze a race for the House of Representatives during the 2022 midterm elections. You will answer each of the questions below using the textbox provided under the question (it will expand as you write). Answers should demonstrate a thoughtful response and be free of grammatical errors. This research assignment requires you to examine multiple sources of information to collect the information needed to answer the questions. The final question then asks you to use that information along with your knowledge of the course material to formulate your own analysis of the race.
After you have completed the assignment you will upload the finished document to Canvas, no later than the due date above. You may notice that I extended the due date listed on the syllabus to provide you with more time, but I strongly advise that you do not wait until the last minute to work on this as you run the risk of a technical problem that could hinder your ability to turn it in.
* This assignment is to be done independently and your submission should be 100% your own work. Canvas will run your submission through a plagiarism checker; anyone caught cheating will immediately receive a zero and will be subject to further disciplinary action.
Steps to Completion:
- Your first step is to select a race to analyze. You may choose any race in the current election cycle, as long as it meets the following two conditions:
- the race is for a seat in the HOR (senate races do not qualify for this assignment)
- there is an incumbent running for re-election (one of the candidates must already be a Representative in the House, it’s okay if they are currently representing a different district than the one they are running for now)
- There are a number of ways you can go about deciding which race to analyze. You can pick the race for the district you live in OR a candidate that you have heard about and find interesting. You might also consider choosing based on the competitiveness of the race – this could be a good strategy because more competitive races tend get more attention form the media, so there is likely more information available for those races. Not to mention it may be more interesting for you to write about! A good way to identify competitive races is by looking at the information presented on the 538 website (link below). Look for the gray boxes in the “forecasting each House seat” section.
- Once you have decided on a race and verified that one of the candidates is an incumbent, start researching the candidates, the district they are running in, and the state of the race!
- As you are doing your research, you may find it helpful to jot down notes on the information you need to answer the questions below, and then go back to write out your full answers. (Answers should be in complete sentences.)
- After you have written out your answers, go back to revise and edit, checking for mistakes and verifying the completeness of your answer.
- Submit your completed assignment to Canvas.
Research Resources: The following four resources should provide you with all the outside information you will need and you need to use all of them. If you cannot find information on your candidate or district, you should choose another one.
- For up-to-date polling information, go to the statisticians at 538:
- You should be able to find information about the district from Ballotpedia – but it may take some digging to find all the information you need.
- You will need to visit the campaign websites for the top two candidates in the race. The easiest way to find this is to google the candidates’ name. *make sure you are on their official campaign site and not their government site or a third-party site, as those will not provide you with the information you need.
- Finally, you will investigate the candidates fundraising. You should be able to find that info from open secrets, however there may be less information for non-incumbents. That is okay as long as there is information on the incumbent’s fundraising.
What race did you choose? (e.g. “The race for New York’s 3rd Congressional District)
- Where is the district located? (what part of the state and what city/cities does it cover?)
- Is the district mostly urban, suburban, or rural?
- How did the district boundaries change after the 2020 Census?
- Does the district appear to be gerrymandered? Explain why you think this may or may not be the case?
- Who are the top two candidates running in that district and which political party do they belong to?
State of the Race:
- Is the race expected to be competitive? How close are the candidates in the latest polls?
- Has there been changes in the polling throughout the campaign or has it remained the same? (has one candidate been in the lead the whole time or has it switched back and forth) If there has been change, what do you think caused the change?
- How much has each candidate raised for this election?
- Is the total amount raised more, less, or about the same as other races in this election cycle?
- Looking closer at the fundraising of the incumbent, who are their top donors? (top industries OR specific donors are an acceptable answer)
- Thinking critically: what does the source of their fundraising tell you about the candidate? i.e. Why do you think those donors support the candidate?
Campaign Strategy: Looking at the candidates’ campaign websites:
- What seem to be the most important issues for each candidate?
- What groups do they seem to be targeting? (e.g. retired people, veterans, young people, rich people etc.)
- Why do you think they are targeting those groups? (think about the specific district and general voting trends)
- How would you describe the candidates “homestyle”? Aka: how are they branding themselves to the voters in their district? Why do you think they chose this style?
- Identify one of the strategies, discussed in lecture, used by the incumbent candidate. (advertising, credit-claiming, position-taking) Explain what the strategy is and how this fits with what you observe the candidate doing.
- In two or three paragraphs, use the information you collected and your knowledge of American elections to predict who you think will win the race. Explain why you believe this to be the case, what is it about that candidate, the electoral context, and the district that will give them the edge? (Pick one candidate and make an argument, don’t straddle the fence! You will be graded on the basis of your ability to synthesize information and formulate an argument, you will not be docked for getting your prediction wrong)
You do not need to include citations for any of the sources provided in this prompt or in class but you should provide full citations for any source of information you used that is not listed here (in MLA format in the box below). You will submit this to Canvas so you do not need to print out a hard copy.
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