Political Science 410/430
Capstone Seminar in American Politics/Public Policy:
Money in Politics

Course Syllabus
Fall 2003
TR 3:00 - 4:15 p.m. in 793 SWKT

Instructor: Jay Goodliffe
Office: 752 SWKT
Office Hours: TR 4:30 - 5:30 p.m., or by appointment
Phone: 422-9136
e-mail: goodliffe@byu.edu


Home Page
Office Hours
Academic Honesty and Plagiarism

Home Page

The home page for Political Science 410/430 is http://fhss.byu.edu/polsci/Goodliffe/410/. Check the home page often for announcements, corrections, instructions for assignments, syllabus, etc. You should also check your email regularly.

Office Hours

I will hold office hours on Tuesday and Thursday 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. (after class). I am also available at most other times if you make arrangements with me. Feel free to talk to me after class, or to contact me by email or voice mail. I encourage you to come by to talk about assignments in the class, suggestions for improving the class, politics and current events, the perils of student life, or for any other reason.


It is understood that students enrolled in this class will have taken at a minimum Political Science 110 (Introduction to American Politics); Political Science 200 (Political Inquiry); and Political Science 300, 310, 330, 350 or 370 (Theories of ________). Thus, I expect all students to have a working knowledge of American politics, how to write (an academic research paper), and how to identify, apply and test theories. If you have not taken these courses, take this course after you have. Without these prerequisites, it will be more difficult to succeed in this course.

It will also be of great benefit to have taken Economics 110 or Political Science 205; and any political science course that has covered some of the subject matter in this course (Political Science 313, 314, 315, 316, 318).


The capstone seminar is intended to be the culminating course in the political science department. Students should bring all of the skills they have learned in previous courses and apply them to a major research project to produce the best work of their undergraduate careers.

This particular course takes as its subject matter the role of money in politics, particularly in U.S. national politics. Specifically, the course will examine how money affects elections and legislation. There are many other areas that money could affect, such as court decisions or bureaucratic decisions, but we will concentrate on elections and legislation to be able to delve deeper into these topics.

Students who complete this course successfully should:


The course will be conducted as a seminar. Students will rotate presenting and leading the discussion of the readings. Students who are not presenting will be required to write a short response paper about the readings and participate actively. Therefore, it is incumbent that you have read the material to be discussed during each class period prior to the class. You should anticipate that the discussion leaders and I will call on you to contribute your opinion.

I actively encourage questions, interruptions, cries for help, protests of disbelief, etc. You will never be penalized for participating--even when this takes the form of vague complaints like, "I've got no clue why we are reading this stuff!" I urge--indeed, I expect--you to take advantage of the chance to talk with me during office hours.


A Chinese proverb (supposedly) says, "I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand." This philosophy drives the requirements of the class.

Reading Responses


Discussion Leading


Class Participation




Outline and Bibliography




Peer Draft


Peer Reviews


Final Draft



We will be reading about four journal articles or book chapters each week, or about two articles/chapters in each class. In general, each topic will have readings that come to opposite (or at least different) conclusions.

Reading Responses

Before each class, you are required to send me a short email (2-3 paragraphs) for the readings for that class. The email is due at 6 a.m. the day we discuss the material. The first one or two paragraphs should explicate the arguments of the readings, including such things as independent and dependent variables and causal mechanisms; and assess the evidence, summarizing what the data are and how well they support the authors' arguments. The last paragraph needs to show your independent, critical thought, and can take (at least) one of the following four forms:

  1. Intra-class connection. Example: Today’s reading reminded me of the earlier essay by….The connection I see is…Today’s author reads the evidence differently because…
  2. Cross-curriculum connections. Example: Today’s reading got me thinking about a similar problem in my economics class….
  3. Data connections. Example: Today’s reading implied that all politicians are corrupt, yet The New York Times today carried a story about a Senator who was retiring to spend more time with her family, calling into question the author's initial assumption….
  4. Puzzlement. Example: Today’s reading discussed how special interests invest in incumbents. But we read something earlier by the same author that said that special interests were essentially uninterested in such behavior. How can these both be right?

Other means, beyond these four forms, of showing your independent thought and analysis will also be fine, provided your thoughts are organized and clearly expressed, and that you are making connections between ideas.

I will provide feedback on how you are doing on the emails at a few points in the semester, but a far better way to have them evaluated is to print them, bring them to class, and use them as the basis for our discussions. In addition, they are also a chance to explore ideas without the pressure of expanding them into full papers, though it is likely that some arguments used in great papers may will get their start as smart emails.

You should submit emails for each reading assignment every day that we have a reading assignment, except when you are leading class discussion. Each student can skip two emails without penalty. You should feel free to discuss the readings together before composing the emails. Collaboration and discussion is encouraged. However, you will be graded on your independence of thought in your analysis, so copying each other’s work will be penalized severely.

Discussion Leading

Several times during the semester, each student will have the opportunity to lead class discussion on the readings. In this presentation, you must use some sort of visual aid (e.g. poster, overhead slides, PowerPoint, etc.). Presenting students may wish to meet with me before presenting their readings. You should spend much more time on analysis than on summary (5 minutes or so). More details on what I expect in leading class discussion are found here.

Class Participation

Since this class is a seminar, students should be ready to engage one another in discussion. Of course, in order to participate, one needs to attend class. Participation consists of listening attentively, asking and responding to thought-provoking questions, and bringing up relevant points discussed in your reading response. Active, collaborative learning (i.e. learning by group participation) not only enhances your education, but is more interesting to both student and instructor. Later in semester, the class will participate in a simulation on congressional behavior.

You are responsible for any announcements made in class even if you did not attend. I suggest that you exchange phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses with other students in the class.

Research Project

The research project determines most of the class grade. The research project for this class will be to apply theories that we read in class to a 2002 U.S. Senate Election (i.e. a case study). In short, you will analyze how money affects the particular Senate race. After showing how money affected (or not) the Senate race, you will argue whether this means that the campaign finance system should be changed, and how. In the 2002 election, there were 12 races that were decided by 10 points or less, and several more that attracted the attention of parties and interest groups. Compared to all other campaigns (except Presidential campaigns), Senate races also attract more attention of the press, so it will be (relatively) easier to track down evidence to (dis)confirm various theories. The class is set up to accomodate this research project, as many of the theories to be applied will be covered in the first half of the semester. Each student will examine a different race, and will need to choose the race within the first couple weeks.

If you want to do some other project, then you should discuss it with me as soon as possible. For example, you could apply the theories to a piece of (potential) legislation, but you would most likely need to have inside information about how (moneyed) interests affected legislation at early stages. You could also apply the theories to a close U.S. House race or governor's race.

All assignments are due at the beginning of class. If you cannot make it to class, please leave the assignment with the department secretaries (in the Political Science office--745 SWKT) before class begins. You may also submit your assignments via email (as an attachment). I will deduct a 10 points per day (including weekends) for late papers (on a 100 point scale). That said, I am a reasonable person; if you anticipate a problem with submitting the assignment when it is due, speak to me before the assignment is due so that we can try to work out an alternative arrangement. The assignments may be picked up in the Political Science office (745 SWKT) after they are graded. The papers will be discarded at the end of the Winter 2004 term.


Early in the semester, you will be required to submit a research proposal or prospectus. A research prospectus is a plan of attack for a research problem. The audience for the prospectus is the instructor and your peers in the class. Each of you should meet with me one-on-one at least one week before the prospectus is due so that I can suggest useful sources, possible angles of attack, and potential problems. A quality prospectus includes the following:

  1. It should clearly state a research question (which is not the same as a topic). The question should ask about relationships between variables.
  2. It should apply a theoretical approach to research the question, drawing on relevant literature in political science (from this course and beyond it).
  3. From that theoretical approach should stem hypotheses about relationships among independent and dependent variables. The hypotheses should point to causal relationships, e.g. if A then B. These hypotheses should be very clearly stated.
  4. It should contain a discussion on where you plan to find the relevant statistical or case study data to provide evidence for your hypotheses. “I will consult political science journals” is not sufficient. You need to have a clear idea about specific sources of theoretical analysis, qualitative information and quantitative data. You do not need to discuss these sources at length, but you do need to identify them.
  5. It should briefly discuss possible limitations to the research endeavor.

Outline and Bibliography

In the middle of the semester, you will turn in a more detailed outline of your paper. You should demonstrate the primary arguments of the paper, as well as support for each of those arguments. In addition, you will turn in a bibliography that shows where you are getting your information for your specific topic, as well as what theories you are applying and testing.


Near the end of the semester, we will devote one week of class to students presenting their work to the rest of the class. You will have about fifteen minutes for the presentation, so you will not have time to present your entire project. Instead, you should concentrate on two or three main points. The points may come from the paper, or they can even be something that you found interesting about your case, but did not fit into the paper. But they should still be an analytical points that use the theories we read. Some further suggestions for presentations can be found here and here.

Peer Draft

A few weeks before the final draft is due, you will turn in a draft of your paper to your peers (and me). The peer draft should not be a first draft, or else your grade will suffer and you will not get as much helpful feedback. The peer draft does not need to incorporate the last topic's theories (business), though the final draft will need to include these (and it does not hurt to read ahead). Students will be assigned to a group of three. Each student in the group will distribute his or her paper to the other two students for peer evaluation.

The paper must include an abstract. An abstract is a terse, one-paragraph summary of the paper’s argument and evidence. It is required for most scholarly writing. It greatly helps the reader identify the main points of a paper and follow its contents. It should not be longer than 250 words.

Roughly, a 'C' (satisfactory) paper will have lots of descriptive detail about the case study, but hardly any application of the theories in class. A 'B' (good) paper will use the theories of class, but not include very much descriptive detail. An 'A' (excellent) paper will use plenty of descriptive detail to support or disconfirm the appropriate theories.

Peer Reviews

Students will evaluate two peers' papers, and return each of them with an evaluation sheet. Peers will also give grades to the instructor only. Finally, authors will grade their peers on how well they were able to constructively criticize authors' arguments, and give specific suggestions on how to strengthen those arguments.

Final Draft

After incorporating the appropriate suggestions and criticisms, students will turn in their final paper. Remember to include an abstract. Authors will also grade the peer reviewers.

How to Succeed in this Course

I do not grade on a curve.

I include the following information from the BYU 2003-2004 Undergraduate Catalog which guides how I grade and determine workload:

"The grade given in a course is the teacher's evaluation of the student's performance, achievement, and understanding in that subject as covered in the class. The following adjectives indicate the meaning of the letter grades:
A Excellent
B Good
C Satisfactory
D Minimum passing
E Unacceptable
"Hence, the grade A means that the student's performance, achievement, and understanding were excellent in the portion of the subject covered in the class.
"There are prerequisites that qualify students to be admitted to the more advanced classes offered by a department. A senior has added experience, understanding, and preparation and, consequently, progresses in courses that would have been impossible when the student was a freshman. The level of performance, achievement, and understanding required to qualify for each grade that carries credit (any grade other than E, UW, I, IE, or WE) is higher in a more advanced class than in those classes that precede it, and the student is prepared to work at this higher level" (p. 48).
"The expectation for undergraduate courses is three hours of work per week per credit hour for the average student who is appropriately prepared; much more time may be required to achieve excellence" (p. 46).

Putting these statements together, the university expects an "average student" to work "much more" than 9 hours a week to receive an 'A' (= "excellence") in a 3 credit-hour course. This is my expectation as well.

This workload has been affirmed by President Bateman in two of his recent devotional addresses. On 7 September 1999, he stated, "It takes approximately three hours of study outside class for every hour in the classroom. If you take 15 hours of credit, you should allocate upward of 45 hours for study per week." On 19 September 2000, he advised, "Study daily--at least three hours for every hour in class."

Students who have succeeded in this course have the following characteristics. They

Academic Honesty and Plagiarism

From the Academic Honesty section of the BYU Honor Code: "The first injunction of the BYU Honor Code is the call to `be honest.' Students come to the university not only to improve their minds, gain knowledge, and develop skills that will assist them in their life's work, but also to build character. `President David O. McKay taught that character is the highest aim of education' (The Aims of a BYU Education, p. 6). It is the purpose of the BYU Academic Honesty Policy to assist in fulfilling that aim.

"BYU students should seek to be totally honest in their dealings with others. They should complete their own work and be evaluated based upon that work. They should avoid academic dishonesty and misconduct in all its forms, including but not limited to plagiarism, fabrication or falsification, cheating, and other academic misconduct." Read the full version here (parts attached to the original paper syllabus).

A colleague (Professor Mitch Sanders of Notre Dame) has already explicated these issues specifically for political science. Please read here (also attached to the original paper syllabus).

If you write a paper for another course (past or present) that uses the same topic as a paper for this course, you need to approve it with me first, and then you must turn in to me a copy of the paper from your other course.


Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in an educational program or activity that receives federal funds. The act is intended to eliminate sex discrimination in education. Title IX covers discrimination in programs, admissions, activities, and student-to-student sexual harassment. BYU’s policy against sexual harassment extends not only to employees of the university but to students as well. If you encounter unlawful sexual harassment or gender based discrimination, please talk to your professor; contact the Equal Employment Office at 422-5895 or 367-5689 (24-hours); or contact the Honor Code Office at 422-2847.

Brigham Young University is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have any disability which may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the University Accessibility Center (422-2767). Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the UAC office. If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures. You should contact the Equal Employment Office at 422-5895, D-282 ASB.


It is essential that you keep up with the reading. Indeed, I expect you to have completed reading assignments before the class in which we discuss it (thus, the response papers). There are two books available for purchase from the bookstore (also on reserve at the Lee Library):

(You can also obtain these books through an on-line bookstore. The following websites search out several bookstores simultaneously: TextbookLand.com or AllBookStores.com or Campusbooks4less.com or StudentMarket.com.)

The vast majority of the readings are from journal articles or book chapters. These will be available for checkout (and to photocopy) in the Department of Political Science office (745 SWKT). As the office keeps regular business hours (8 a.m. - 5 p.m.), please plan ahead to obtain the readings. There will also be an opportunity to copy all of the readings (besides the two books) at once. Many of the readings may be accessed through the internet via links provided below (on a BYU computer, or off-campus, if you know how to work through the library off-campus access).

I recommend that you read a national newspaper daily. Knowledge of current events will help you in your paper and active participation in class. I suggest subscribing to a national paper, or at the very least, reading on the web the national news of The New York Times (free with registration), The Washington Post (free), The Los Angeles Times (free with registration), or The Wall Street Journal (not free).

I may add or subtract readings during the semester, as the campaign finance terrain is constantly shifting in the United States, and relevant academic studies may be published after the course has started. If I find something that provides greater insight or additional knowledge to our subject, I will add or substitute the reading.

Within every section, there are many recommended readings. These are not required. Some of them may be helpful for your research paper, and some may be of more general interest. I would be happy to discuss what additional readings may be appropriate for your circumstance.

Introduction (September 2 - 4)

The Campaign Finance System (September 9 - 11)

Can Money Keep Out Challengers? (September 16 - 18)

Can Congressional Candidates Buy an Election? (September 23 - 25)

Can Parties Buy an Election? (September 30 - October 2)

Can Special Interests Buy an Election? (October 7 - 9)

Can Presidential Candidates Buy the Nomination? (October 14 - 16)

Can Special Interests Buy Legislation? (October 21 - November 4)

Can/Should the Campaign Finance System Be Reformed? (November 6 - 18)

Does Business Rule? (November 20)

Bonus Topic: Can Special Interests Buy Court Decisions?

Schedule (subject to change)

Date Readings Assignments
September 2 Barlett and Steele; Barlett et al.; Barlett et al.  
4 Bates; Milyo  
9 Corrado; Mann Topic
11 Potter; Mann and Corrado  
16 Hersch and McDougall; Goodliffe  
18 Goodliffe; Milyo and Groseclose  
23 Gerber; Erikson and Palfrey  
25 Milyo; Goodliffe and Magleby  
30 Corrado; La Raja Prospectus
October 2 Magleby and Smith; Ansolabehere and Snyder  
7 Potter and Jowers; Baker and Magleby  
9 Magleby and Beal; Goodliffe  
14 Corrado; Haynes et al.  
16 Adkins and Dowdle; Damore  
21 Bauer et al.; Clawson et al. Outline and Bibliography
23 Hall and Wayman; Wright  
28 McChesney; Jackson and Engel; Stratmann  
30 Lobbyist Visit  
November 4 Schneider 1-2, Epilogue, Appendix; Mann; Franz and Bopp Bopp Visit
6 Bronars and Lott; Grossman and Helpman; Ansolabehere et al. 
11 Schneider 3-9  
13 Smith 1-5  
18 Smith 6-10, Preface  
20 Ferguson; Smith Peer Drafts
NOTE! 25 No Class--Friday Schedule  
27 No Class--Thanksgiving  
December 2 Presentations Peer Reviews
4 Presentations  
9 Political Simulation  
11 Political Simulation Final Draft


Many parts of this syllabus are drawn from Bert Johnson's syllabus. I also consulted the last three years of department capstone seminar syllabi, and used some parts of those syllabi verbatim.

Political Science 410/430 home page

Jay Goodliffe's home page

This page is http://fhss.byu.edu/polsci/Goodliffe/410/syllabus.htm