The U.S. Presidential Election

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
29 May 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

American Presidential Systemis designed to promote strong analytic thinking with respect to political institutions in the United States (e.g.Presidency, Congress, Electoral Campaigns, and other American institutions). Students should be reasonably familiar with the American political system so that these topics can be studied in more depth than a general introduction class.

Module aims

After taking the class, students should be able to have a strong working knowledge of the American political system, and they should also be able to understand how research takes place within each topic area.

Module learning outcomes

• To learn about and understand key features of American politics and the political system
• To learn how to use quantitative data to understand American politics
• To learn how to write about data within essays and to use data to support an argument
• To develop writing and analytic skills

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

The module will be run as in a weekly seminar format with Professor Ezrow providing an introduction to the topic and students expected to engage in discussion for the remaining time. Active participation is required


  • Kernell, Samuel; Jacobson, Gary C.; Kousser, Thad; Vavreck, Lynn. (2016) The logic of American politics, Thousand Oaks, California: CQ Press.
  • Cohen, Marty; Karol, David; Noel, Hans; Zaller, John. (2007) The Party Decides: Presidential Nominations Before and After Reform, Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Douglas A. Hibbs Jr. (2000) 'Bread and Peace Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections', in Public Choice. vol. 104 (1/2) , pp.149-180
  • Bawn, Kathleen; Cohen, Martin; Karol, David; Masket, Seth; Noel, Hans; Zaller, John. (2012-9) 'A Theory of Political Parties: Groups, Policy Demands and Nominations in American Politics', in Perspectives on Politics. vol. 10 (03) , pp.571-597
  • Abramowitz, Alan I. (2016-10) 'Will Time for Change Mean Time for Trump?', in PS: Political Science & Politics. vol. 49 (04) , pp.659-660
  • Abramowitz, Alan; McCoy, Jennifer. (2019-01) 'United States: Racial Resentment, Negative Partisanship, and Polarization in Trump's America', in The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. vol. 681 (1) , pp.137-156
  • Philpot, Tasha S. (2018-10) 'Race, Gender, and the 2016 Presidential Election', in PS: Political Science & Politics. vol. 51 (4) , pp.755-761
  • Stephen Ansolabehere; Shanto Iyengar; Adam Simon; Nicholas Valentino. (1994) 'Does Attack Advertising Demobilize the Electorate?', in The American Political Science Review: American Political Science Association. vol. 88 (4) , pp.829-838
  • DellaVigna, S.; Kaplan, E. (2007-08-01) 'The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting', in The Quarterly Journal of Economics. vol. 122 (3) , pp.1187-1234
  • Anthony Downs. (1957) 'An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy', in Journal of Political Economy: The University of Chicago PressThe University of Chicago Press. vol. 65 (2) , pp.135-150
  • McGhee, Eric; Masket, Seth; Shor, Boris; Rogers, Steven; McCarty, Nolan. (2014-04) 'A Primary Cause of Partisanship? Nomination Systems and Legislator Ideology', in American Journal of Political Science. vol. 58 (2) , pp.337-351
  • Lewis-Beck, Michael S.; Tien, Charles. (2016-10) 'The Political Economy Model: 2016 US Election Forecasts', in PS: Political Science & Politics. vol. 49 (04) , pp.661-663
  • Enli, Gunn. (2017-02) 'Twitter as arena for the authentic outsider: exploring the social media campaigns of Trump and Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election', in European Journal of Communication. vol. 32 (1) , pp.50-61
  • Alvarez, R. Michael; Sinclair, Betsy. (2012-09) 'Electoral Institutions and Legislative Behavior', in Political Research Quarterly. vol. 65 (3) , pp.544-557
  • Steger, Wayne P. (2016-10) 'Conditional Arbiters: The Limits of Political Party Influence in Presidential Nominations', in PS: Political Science & Politics. vol. 49 (04) , pp.709-715
  • Kolodny, Robin; Dwyre, Diana. (2018-05) 'Convergence or Divergence? Do Parties and Outside Groups Spend on the Same Candidates, and Does It Matter?', in American Politics Research. vol. 46 (3) , pp.375-401
  • Rachel Bitecofer. (2018) 'The Party Decides?', in The Unprecedented 2016 Presidential Election, Cham: Springer International Publishing., pp.59-80

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay    65% 
Practical   Presentation    35% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Lawrence Ezrow, email: ezrow@essex.ac.uk.
Professor Lawrence Ezrow
Module Supervisor: Professor Lawrence Ezrow - ezrow@essex.ac.uk / Module Administrator: Lewis Olley - govquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Arzu Kibris
University of Warwick
Associate Professor
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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