You have been hired as a consultant to write a report about the activities of the Republican and Democratic parties in an assigned state (assignments will be made during the second week of classes). The goal is to provide information to an organization that is attempting to better understand the political landscape of a particular state. Your job is to produce a report that is approximately 14-15 double-spaced pages of text (not including tables, reference pages, etc.) that contains the following five clearly delineated sections (Section 1, Section 2, etc.):
1. Recent history (past decade) of how the party is doing in the state in terms of success at capturing statewide-offices, congressional delegation, and seats in the state legislative chambers. What changes (if any) have there been over the past decade? What trends do you detect? What can you determine about the partisan allegiances of citizens (partisan identification and/or registration)?
2. How well has the party performed in the last two elections in terms of recruiting and fielding candidates for offices at the statewide and congressional levels? What about intra-party contests? Have there been any heavily contested primaries within the parties in recent years (at the statewide or congressional level)? What effect (if any) has this had on the ability of the parties to be successful in the general elections?
3. Describe the level of campaign contributions raised by the state party organizations in recent years and indicate how these funds have been used. In other words, how much was raised, where did much of it come from, and to whom (or to what entity) was it distributed? Keep in mind that there may be more than one campaign committee for each party (e.g., legislative campaign committees are different from state party organization committees). Make certain to distinguish and sort these out as best as you can.
4. Briefly describe the state-level organizations of each of the parties. Identify and name the major leaders of the organization. What information can you gather from each party’s website about activities that the party organizations have undertaken? How large of a role did the state-level party organizations play in the last set of elections (2012) and what role are they playing in the 2014 elections? Are there any voter registration drives or grass-roots campaigns underway in advance of these elections?
5. What policies have the state parties’ candidates pursued in recent years at the state level (as evidenced by gubernatorial and/or legislature activities)? What policies have each of the parties taken credit for or actively resisted in recent years? What major issues dominate the political debate between the parties? Make certain to indicate clearly what the positions of the parties are on these issues.
Tips for Locating Information
General reference materials: Almanac of American Politics (copy available in reference section of Middleton), Book of the States (available on-line through the Council of State Governments website: http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/kc/category/content-type/content-type/book-states. To find out more about elections in the state (regarding how parties have performed in recruiting and fielding candidates) you may need to consult the state’s elections bureau (typically in the office of the Secretary of State). Project Vote Smart (www.votesmart.org) may also provide useful general information.
Campaign finance data: The only source you need for this is the National Institute on Money in State Politics (www.followthemoney.org).
Party organization information and campaign activities: Frequently consult each party’s main web page. This will usually provide abundant
information about what the parties are doing.
Information on party policies and activities: The LSU libraries web site allows you to search newspapers by state. This can often provide a wide
array of information concerning party activities in recent years.
E-mail alerts: Creating news alerts (through Google or Yahoo) is a fantastic way to be alerted to activities as they are reported in the news media.
Consider creating a Gmail or Hotmail e-mail account dedicated to retrieving relevant information.
It is expected that you will have many citations throughout this report. Whenever you cite a statistic or make a point that someone else has made, it is necessary to cite the source in such a way that the reader can retrieve that same information and check it. Within the text you can use parenthetical references or footnotes and it is expected that you will have a separate reference page listing the sources. This enables you to merely indicate the name and page numbe