Political science, Presidential elections of 1896, 1932, and economic issues of 2012

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We have examined American presidential elections. American presidential elections are all important but, in the context of history, some end up being more important than others. In this assignment, you will briefly examine three presidential elections in which economic issues played a large part and which had a large impact on the country for years to come. Two of them, 1896 and 1932, , are widely considered to be “realigning” elections (or, as Skowronek might put it, “regime-changing elections”), and many would argue 1980 also fits in this category.

Lastly, you will discuss the economic issues in the 2012 election and make some predictions about the consequences of the election for domestic policy. The 1896, 1932, and 1980 elections presented American voters with a choice between candidates with different views about the appropriate role of the federal government and the appropriate role of the President in the American economy. 2012 was in many ways a similar election.


The Election of 1896 – This election took place in the aftermath (and continuing recovery) of the Panic of 1893. The election was largely shaped by that economic crisis. Here you will discuss the issues and the positions of the two major candidates, William Jennings Bryan and William McKinley, on those issues.


The Election of 1932 – This election came in the midst of (and height of) the Great Depression. It was almost entirely shaped by the response (or lack of response) of the Hoover administration to the world’s largest economic crisis. Here you will discuss the issues and the positions of the two major candidates, Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover.


The Election of 1980 – This election came in the midst of a severe recession that endured for most of the 1970s and across parts of three presidential administrations. In analyzing this election, you should consider the issues and the positions of the two major candidates, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

For all three elections: You will write a brief (2 pages maximum) description of each election. Questions to consider are: Who were the candidates? What were the economic issues? What policy proposals did the candidates offer to deal with the economic issues? What was the outcome of the election? Why did it turn out that way? What factors influenced the outcome of the election? What role, if any, did the candidates’ political philosophies play in the campaign? What were the long-range policy implications/consequences for the way the election turned out? Should we consider each election to be a realigning (or regime-changing) election? There have been many books and scholarly articles written about each of these elections – you will have no trouble finding sources to assist you with this analysis. You can also examine newspaper and magazine accounts of the races as they were being run.

The Election of 2012: Here you will briefly (2 pages maximum) make your own conclusions about the following: 1) what were the major economic issues in this election; 2) what were the candidates’ positions on those issues; what were their major economic policy proposals; what were the major differences between the two candidates’ positions on the issues and policy proposals? What do you think the long-term impact of the outcome of the election will be for the American economy? Do you think this will be considered a realigning (or regime-changing) election? Why or why not?


A Note about Sources and Plagiarism: You absolutely, positively MAY NOT use

encyclopedias (on-line or otherwise), or blogs, or left- and right-leaning media websites, or websites of political groups as a source for this paper. I know what they say, I’ll be looking for them, and any use of them will severely (in the most severe way) affect your grade. I will also randomly screen papers for plagiarism. It is an unfortunate reality in this day and age that the temptations to cheat are great and it is relatively easy to do so. It is also relatively easy to catch it, and I will be doing so. If you are caught, you will receive a failing grade for the course may be subject to the University’s disciplinary process for academic dishonesty.


For this paper, you must consult a MINIMUM OF EIGHT SOURCES, following the rules outlined above, and cite them consistently using APSA style (I will post a handout on the class D2L site explaining APSA citation style). You may use books, your lecture notes (make sure you cite the lecture if you want to use it), textbooks, political science and history journals (e.g. Presidential Studies Quarterly).


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