Midterm Review Sheet - University of San Diego Home Pages

PS 310W
Fall 2006
Midterm Review Sheet
Your exam will have six short answer questions and one essay. Three of the short answers will be
from the readings and three will be from the lectures. Good luck.
The founding
What were the framers’ personal experiences with executive power? What does the Declaration
of Independence say about executive power? What were some of the problems with executive
power under the Articles of Confederation? What issues surrounding the founding of the
executive branch received the most debate and deliberation at the Constitutional Convention?
What is the vesting clause controversy? How did the vesting clause difference get into the
Constitution? Do you think the Framers would approve of the Modern Presidency? What are
Bimes’ and Nichols’ arguments?
Continuing Debates
What was the Helvidius-Pacificus controversy? How does it relate to the vesting clause? How
was it resolved? Why was it radical for Jackson to veto the National Bank? Why did the Whigs’
argument eventually lose out? How would you describe the difference between Taft’s and
Roosevelt’s conceptions of presidential power? What is prerogative power? How did Lincoln use
it? How did Nixon use it? Do you think the use of prerogative power is ever appropriate?
Early political parties and nominations
Why is the nomination process important to selecting a president? What did the founding
generation think of party politics? Campaigning? What was the caucus system? What role did
party leaders play in it? To whom was the candidate beholden under this system? What types of
candidates did it produce? What were the big problems with the caucus system that led to its
demise? Who created the convention system? How did it work? What are some examples of how
the roles that candidates and parties played in campaigns changed during this period? What role
did the public play in the convention system? Party leaders? Candidates? What relationship did
presidents have with parties during this period?
Twentieth century nominations
How and why did campaigns and nominating systems change in the beginning of the twentieth
century? How did civil service reforms affect presidential politics? How does the mixed
nomination system differ from the convention system that preceded it? What role do party elites
play in the mixed system? The convention? Candidates? The public? Why did the 1968
Democratic Convention lead to the demise of the mixed system? What rules changes did the
McGovern Fraser commission make? What were the immediate consequences of the party
reforms of the early 1970s? What is momentum? What role did the media play in the new
primary system? How did the pure primary system of the 1970s differ from the mixed system that
preceded it? What were some perceived problems with the pure primary system? How did the
Hunt Commission try to alleviate some of those problems? How does Frontloading affect
nomination politics? What formal and informal roles do party elites play in the current
nomination process? What roles do candidates play? The Media? Money? How do campaign
finance rules affect candidate strategy? What are the pros and cons of having a national primary
to select the party nominees for president?
Parties and Third Parties
What constitutional, legal, and cultural features of the American political system disadvantage
third parties? What factors make it more likely that a third party presidential candidate will do
well? What do you think would qualify as success for a third party presidential candidate? In
what sense is it “throwing away your vote” to vote for a third party candidate?
In what ways does the nomination process in general impose constraints on presidential
candidates and the presidents who are elected? How have those constraints changed over time?
To what degree do you think presidential candidates are beholden to their parties today? In what
ways are parties resources for the president?
Presidential Elections
In what ways does the Electoral College affect presidential campaign strategy? How would a
direct election change that strategy? How would proportional allocation of electors from each
state change that strategy? How are general election campaigns financed? How are primary
campaigns financed? What are the pros and cons of appealing to base voters and swing voters?
What are the characteristics of a modern campaign organization? How does it differ from a 19th
century campaign organization? What are the four different types of television advertisements
that a candidate can run? What are the pros and cons of running each type?
How much do voters know about politics? How much do you think they need to know in order to
make an informed decision in voting for president? How do voters make up their minds? What is
the funnel of causality? What are the stages within the funnel? Which comes first? Which do you
think is most important? Why? What is the median voter theorem? Why does it encourage
candidates to minimize controversial positions in the general election? Why do some voters say
there are no differences between the candidates? Under what circumstances can we say that
presidents win mandates to enact specific policies?
Press and Campaigns
How do the incentives facing the press affect the news coverage of presidential campaigns? What
are some examples of ways in which candidates can try to control the media coverage of their
campaigns? How do media workways encourage campaigns to be staged? What are some
examples from the Bush campaign of “staged” events? How do the media encourage candidates
to simplify their messages?
Press and the President
Why does Kerbel argue that the media are too hard on presidents? Why does Sparrow argue that
the media are not too hard on presidents? What is framing? Priming? How does the media affect
public opinion? How has the media changed since the “Golden Age?” How do trends in the
business of news affect the news coverage of the president? What are some ways in which the
president tries to control the media? To what degree can the media serve as a check on
presidential power?
Public Opinion
How do people form opinions about the president’s job performance? What are approval ratings
really measuring? Why is public approval important to the president? In what ways is it a
resource? A Constraint? What is Going Public? How does Kernell argue Washington has changed
over time? What are institutionalized and individualized pluralism? Why is Going Public a more
common strategy today than it used to be? Is public opinion more of a resource for presidents
now than it used to be? How can presidents manipulate public opinion?
Rally Effects
What is a rally effect? What circumstances give rise to one? What advantages does a president
gain by focusing his attention on international rather than domestic affairs? Do presidents face
fewer constraints during a perceived crisis? If so, why?
Sample Question (and Sample Perfect Answer):
What is frontloading and why are its consequences?
--When states move their primary elections earlier and earlier in the election year.
--favors candidates who have raised lots of money before the primary season begins, and
favors candidates with a national reputation, more money, and more support among
party insiders.
--helps party insiders gain some control back from primary voters over the nomination
and the nominee
Full sentences or a complete sketch are acceptable.