Department of
Political Science


Online Readings


New WA
Election Results

101 Gowen Hall, Box 353530
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-3530
Ph: 206-616-3584

POL S 202: Intro to American Politics

Spring 2010: Tuesday & Thursday, 12:00 - 1:20 pm, Kane Hall 110

Professor: Matt A. Barreto
Office: Gowen 13948
Office Hours:Weds 10am - noon (or by appt)

Teaching Assistants:

  • Ben Gonzalez -
  • Allison Rank -
  • Hyo Won Lee -
  • Joe Marino -

    Course Description:

    This class is an introductory survey of government and politics in the United States and Washington. One of the most important rights in a democracy is the right to vote and thereby influence government. However, Americans typically vote at rates much lower than other democracies throughout the world. Why is this the case? Some experts have suggested that because many people do not fully understand how the political system works, they do not exercise their right to vote. This class will try to answer any and all of your questions about the American political system. Topics covered will include, the Constitution, the relationship between the Federal and State governments, Public Opinion, the Congress, the Presidency, the Supreme Court and much more.

    In addition, we will spend time each class session talking about American Government-related news headlines covering the presidential primary elections, health care reform, war in Afghanistan, immigration reform, the 2010 midterm elections, and more (hint: pick your favorite news blog and starting following it daily). As the quarter progresses, I will be looking for your feedback on how the class is going, so feel free to make suggestions new lecture topics we should cover.

    Finally, we will spend time talking about and researching public opinion, what American know, what they don't know, what they think about public policy or the state legislature. In addition to the class readings and discussion, all students will be required to participate in a research project to collect and assess public opinion among voters here in Washington. The project will be directly related to the course content and readings, and will require roughly 10 hours of time over the course of the 10 week quarter.


    Each week there will be required from course text book and online readings. Readings should be done for the day they are assigned. For some weeks, the required readings are posted online. The complete, week-by-week reading list is also posted on the course website.

    Course Textbook:
    Schmidt, Steffen W. Mack C. Shelley and Barbara A. Bardes, American Government. Brief Edition. Wadsworth: Cengage Press. 2010


    Section Grade 10 points Short paper 15 points Public Opinion Project 20 points Midterm Exam 20 points Final Exam 35 points ----------------------------------------------------------------------- TOTAL 100 points

    GPA Point Scale

    Extra Credit:

    Throughout the quarter, there will be opportunities to attend various events, talks, and symposiums on campus that are related to American government which will count for small, but important, extra credit points. In addition, you will be able to earn extra credit by working extra days in the Political Science survey research lab. Be on the lookout for posted events and ask me if they qualify for extra credit.

    Important Dates:

    March 30, 2010 (TODAY) First Day of Class April 22, 2010 Short paper 1 due via online drop box May 3 - 28, 2010 Survey lab research project in field May 6, 2010 Midterm Exam in class June 1, 2010 Review for final exam, no new material June 3, 2010 Final Exam 12:00 - 1:20pm (note this is last day of week 10)