2016 Midterm Exam

Part 1: Univariate Spatial Model (20%)

Directions: Do the following problem

The president and a one-chamber Congress with 13 members are engaged in a legislative battle: What the marginal tax rate should be for people who make a million dollars a year. The ideal points are arrayed as follows. P denotes the ideal point of the president and ф indicates the location of the status quo. Show on the figure the location of the tax rate that could pass Congress and survive a presidential veto that would also give the median voter the greatest utility in light of the fact that the bill must survive a veto. Describe why you chose that location for the tax rate.

A graph showing the ideal points of the marginal tax rate for people who make a million dollars a year.

Download a larger version of the graph

Part 2: Short Answers (24%)

Directions: Answer three of the following short answer questions.

  • What is pure majority rule and what is its role in using spatial voting theory?
  • Around what primary policy principles did Democrats and Republicans organize themselves during the industrial party system?
  • How do opportunity costs play into the calculations a potential challenger performs when he or she is deciding whether to oppose an incumbent?
  • Was the amount of turnover in the number of seats in the 2010 congressional election significantly greater or less than historical comparisons? In four sentences or less, state the changes that occurred in Congress on account of the 2010 congressional election.
  • What are at least two explanations in the political science literature for why the president’s party tends to lose seats in midterm elections?

Part 3: Essay (56%)

Direction: Write an essay on the following topic.

Note: This course was held during fall 2016; therefore this midterm was written before the 2016 elections.

In addition to the presidential election, in ten days there will be a congressional election. Write an essay in which you discuss what the likely outcome will be, and why that outcome will be as it is. In writing this essay, include information from what you've learned about the particular circumstances of this election (From the roundtables and your own independent reading) and the larger body of knowledge that informs what we know about congressional elections in general. Avoid writing an essay that is motivated by your own partisan hopes. Finally, discuss how the results of this current election will set up the dynamics for the midterm congressional election in 2018.