UNIT TWO: Political Behavior 

Students will understand the mechanisms of transmitting interests to government action, including interest groups, political action committees, and mass media; the role of media coverage and the press on elections and government actions; the different historical and ideological beliefs of political parties; demographic groups in the U.S. and their political beliefs; and ways of understanding political beliefs and behavior.

Students will also become familiar with the workings of the electoral process; the role of money and interest groups on campaigns; the laws governing elections; and the way individual campaigns operate on the local, state, and national level.

Chapter 10: Public Opinion and Political Socialization (pg.300-325)
Chapter 11: Political Parties (pg.326-355)
Chapter 12: Elections and Voting (pg.356-389)
Chapter 13: The Campaign Process (pg.390-423)
Chapter 14: News Media (pg.424-451)
Chapter 15: Interest Groups (pg. 452-480)

Chapter Ten Learning Objectives:

  • Describe how demographic factors shape who we are politically.
  • Identify the processes through which people learn about politics.
  • Define public opinion, identify how it is measured, explain its role in shaping public policy, and discuss the nature of political information in America.
  • Understand the concept of political ideology in the context of American politics and government.
  • Explain the ways in which people participate in politics and in the policy-making process, and discuss the implications of unequal political participation.
  • Understand the relationship between the scope of government, democracy, public opinion, and political action.

Chapter Ten  pp. 300-325  “Public Opinion and Political Action”

  1. What is the largest minority group in America? 
  2. How is the immigration issue impacting politics (elections, laws, political agenda)?
  3. How does family, media, schools, and your peers impact political socialization?
  4. Name two ways in which aging affects political behavior.
  5. How does one detect one’s public opinion?
  6. How does one make public opinion polling cost-effective? 
  7. Describe three criticisms of public opinion polling.
  8. Why has there been such a decline in the trust in government?
  9. How would you explain President Ronald Reagan’s popularity?
  10. List five activities of conventional political participation? Which is the most common?
  11. How does minority group status affect political participation?

Chapter Eleven Learning Objectives:
-Discuss the meaning and functions of a political party.
-Discuss the nature of the party-in-the electorate, party organizations, and the party-in-government.
-Describe the party eras in American history and how parties realign and dealing.
-Explain the major differences between the Democratic and Republican parties today.
-Evaluate the two-party system, its consequences, and the place of third parties in the system.
-Identify the challenges facing the American political parties and explain their relationship to American democracy, individualism, and the scope of government.

Chapter Eleven pp. 326-35 “Political Parties”

    1. Explain the three heads of the political party as a “three-headed political giant.”
    2. What are the five tasks political parties should perform if they are to serve as effective linkage institutions?
    3. What has been the most prominent trend in party identification in recent years?
    4. Who regulates the political parties?
    5. List the three major changes that have occurred to the party system since Roosevelt’s New Deal. 
    6. List four elections which might be considered “critical” or realigning” and explain why. 
    7. What is the most important consequence of two-party governance in the United States? 

Chapter Twelve Learning Objectives 

  • Explain the functions and unique features of American elections.
  • Describe how American elections have evolved using the presidential elections of 1800, 1896, and 1996 as examples.
  • Discuss the factors that affect a citizen’s choice of whether to vote.
  • Explain how Americans vote and what factors influence how they vote.
  • Explain how the electoral college works and what biases it can introduce.
  • Understand how elections affect democracy, public policy, and the scope of government.

    Chapter Twelve pp. 356-389 Elections and Voting 

    1. List the three kinds of elections found in the United States.
    2. Briefly summarize the positions of the three candidates in the 1996 presidential election concerning economic policy: Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, and Ross Perot.
    3. What are the two major reasons why the rich and well educated vote more than the poor and less educated?
    4. How has the influence of party identification on voting changed since the 1950s?
    5. What are the three most important dimensions of candidate image?
    6. What are the three conditions necessary for true policy voting to take place?
    7. What are the two reasons why the electoral college is important to presidential elections? 
    8. What are the two tasks that elections accomplish according to democratic theory?

Chapter Thirteen Learning Objectives 

  • Explain the nomination process and the role of the national party conventions.
  • Describe what is meant by the high-tech campaign and what is needed to run a successful campaign.
  • Discuss the role of money in campaigns, campaign finance reform, and the impact of political action committees.
  • Understand the importance of the media in campaign politics.
  • Explain the impact of campaign on the voters.
  • Understand how campaigns affect democracy and the scope of government
  • Chapter Thirteen pp. 390-3423 “Campaign Process”

    1. List the three elements needed for success in the nomination game.
    2. List seven criticisms of the primary and caucus system.
    3. What are the main features of each day of the national party conventions?
    4. List nine things candidates must do to effectively organize their campaigns.
    5. What are the two factors that determine media coverage of a campaign?
    6. What are the three effects campaigns can have on voters?
    7. What three factors tend to weaken campaigns’ impact on voters?
    8. What is meant by the “permanent campaign”?
    9. How might campaigns affect the scope of government?


Chapter Fourteen Learning Objectives:

  • Describe the characteristics of the mass media today.
  • Explain the difference between the print media and the broadcast media from an historical perspective.
  • Understand how news is found and reported by the media.
  • Describe how the news media affect public opinion.
  • Discuss what is meant by the concepts of policy agenda and policy entrepreneur and the media’s importance to them. 

    Chapter Fourteen pp. 424- “Mass Media and the Political Agenda”

    1. What is the purpose of the media?
    2. List the seven principles of Ronald Reagan’s use and abuse of the media.
    3. Explain two media techniques used most effectively by President Franklin Roosevelt.
    4. What media technique do presidents use today to deliver their message?
    5. Explain three ways in which television affected the political career of Richard Nixon.
    6. What affect did television have on the war in Vietnam?
    7. Where does most news come from?
    8. Explain how the news media tends to be biased.
    9. List five items in the policy entrepreneurs’ “arsenal of weapons.”
    10. What is the difference between the “information society” and the “informed society?”
    11. Cite three ways the FCC regulates the media.
    12. Does anyone “own” the media? How is that possible?

      Chapter Fifteen Learning Objectives:

  • Define interest groups and distinguish them from political parties.
  • Compare and contrast the pluralist, elite, and hyperpluralist theories of interest groups.
  • Explain what makes an interest group successful and why small groups have an advantage over large groups.
  • Identify and describe the strategies that groups use to shape public policy.
  • Describe some of the many types of groups in the American political system.
  • Evaluate interest groups in terms of their influence on democracy and the scope of government.

Chapter Fifteen pp. 452-471 “Interest Groups”

  1. Name three factors that distinguish interest groups from political parties.
  2. What is the difference between a potential group and an actual group?
  3. List the three general strategies used by interest groups to shape public policy.
  4. What are the two basic types of lobbyists?
  5. List four important ways lobbyists can assist a politician.
  6. Why does PAC money go so overwhelmingly to incumbents?
  7. What are four different types of interest groups?
  8. What are the two main organizations that speak for corporations and business?
  9. List three items environmental groups have promoted AND three items they have opposed.
  10. Name two important organizations involved in promoting equality and summarize their major goals.

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