RESEARCH PAPER INSTRUCTIONS
The purpose of this paper is to provide practical application of material learned by developing concepts presented in the presentations. The body of the paper must be at least 6 pages (double spaced, 12-pt font). In addition to the body there must be a separate title page and a page of references. A separate abstract is not necessary and must be omitted.
Do not attempt to write the paper without carefully studying the related presentations. To achieve more than a passing grade, you must demonstrate a mastery of the presentations and factual information and incorporate those ideas into your papers. Naturally, stylistic points such as grammar and spelling will be considered in grading. Your paper must be in current APA format. Doing the minimum amount of work does not guarantee a perfect score.
Topic: Becoming an Informed Voter – Researching Your Congressional Delegation
The research paper has 2 steps. First, you will analyze the background of your congressional district and your U.S. Representative. Second, you will analyze the political background of your state and 1 of your U.S. Senators. You may choose which senator to study; however, if one senator is newly elected and does not have interest group ratings, choose the other one. Note that these are United States Representatives and Senators. Do not use members of your state legislature.
Begin by reviewing the presentation on “Becoming an Informed Voter.” The example of Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia is used. If you live in the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia, you will have to adopt another Virginia congressional district as your temporary home and write about that one, since you have already been given some of the information on Bob Goodlatte. If you have a newly elected representative who has not yet received interest group ratings, get the interest group ratings of a representative from a neighboring district.
After reviewing the presentation, you will write an essay with 2 parts. The first part will deal with your congressional district and congressman; the second part will deal with your state and senator. As explained in the presentation, interest group scores may be found at http://www.votesmart.org.
A helpful source to find information for this paper is The Almanac of American Politics by Michael Barone and Chuck McCutcheon.
This essay will address a number of questions:
• What is the recent political history of your district and state? • How have they voted in recent presidential and congressional elections? • Can your district or state be considered to be leaning Republican or leaning Democratic? • Are the parties relatively even or does one party dominate the elections? • Does your district have a long tradition of supporting one party or has it been changing in recent years? • How did your representative and senator come to power? (Thoroughly describe their backgrounds.) • How do the interest groups (ADA, ACLU, ACU, CC or FRC) rate your representative and senator? (Note: If the Christian Coalition score is not available, you may substitute the Family Research Council score. Include the exact scores from each of these groups. The rationale for this is explained in the presentation.) • Based on these ratings, would you classify your representative and senator as conservative or liberal? Justify your answer.