Political Science 201:
Political Research Methods
Problem Set #1
Please answer the questions below on a separate sheet of paper. It is preferable that you type your
answers, though we will accept legible, hand-written responses. You may work in groups, but the
nal product you submit must be your own. Write up your own answers. Do not copy from others.
The academic integrity policy will be strictly enforced.
This problem set is due Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 9:10 AM.
1. Identify the independent and dependent variables in each the following aphorisms. (5 points
(a) An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
ies when you’re having fun.
(c) The early bird gets the worm.
(d) Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.
(e) See a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.
2. The following is the abstract to an article that appeared in the latest edition of The American
Political Science Review:1
While women have participated in a variety of militarized movements across time and
space, the determinants of their participation have not been examined systematically.
In this article, we seek to explain variation in women’s involvement across dierent
violent political organizations. Our research highlights the role that organizational
attributes play in in
uencing women’s presence in violent groups. We evaluate our
hypotheses using an original dataset on women’s participation in and characteristics
of 166 violent political organizations across 19 African countries from 1950 to 2011.
Our empirical results show strong support for our argument that organization-based
opportunities for women’s participation explain whether female members are present
in a group.
Identify the independent and dependent variables. Explain your answer. (10 points.)
3. Which of the following (if any) are normative statements about politics? (10 points.)
(a) The public tends to reelect presidents when the economy is growing.
(b) Canadians are more trusting of government than Americans are.
(c) The Supreme Court should strike down any law that threatens individual liberties.
(d) Very few Americans approve of the job our current Congress is doing.
(e) The United States ought to intervene in countries where there are humanitarian crises.
1Jakana L. Thomas and Kanisha D. Bond, \Women’s Participation in Violent Political Organizations,” American
Political Science Review 109(2015): 488-506.
PolS201 Problem Set #1
4. The graph below shows the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives gained by the
incumbent or elected president’s party every two years. That is, it shows us how many seats
were gained by the winning presidential candidate’s party in years where there is a presiden-
tial election as well as how many seats were gained by the sitting president’s party in years
where there is no presidential election. (For those who need a quick brush up on U.S. civics,
presidential elections are held every four years, Congressional elections every two.)
(a) What type of measure does this graph illustrate? Explain. (5 points.)
(b) Propose a theory that might explain the variation here. (Note: Presidential elections are
held in 1932, 1936, 1940, etc.; Congressional elections are held in 1932, 1934, 1936, etc.)
Be clear about what your dependent and independent variables are. (15 points.)
5. Congratulations! You are the majority party leader in a 400-person legislature! Your party
controls the legislature with 255 seats. You and your fellow legislators are currently deciding
how to allocate spending from a new revenue source.
You and most of your party would like to spend the money entirely on domestic projects. If
need be, you would be willing to compromise and split the money evenly between the military
and domestic projects. The worst possible outcome for you is to see all the money go to defense.
However, a hawkish faction within your party, consisting of 100 members, prefers to split the
money evenly between domestic and military projects. Failing that, they would prefer to see
all the money go to the military than for it all to go to domestic project.
PolS201 Problem Set #1
The opposition party, made up of 145 members, would spend all the money on the military.
If that cannot be achieved, they would spend it all on domestic projects. Their least favored
option is to split the money | they believe it’s only enough to do one or the other, not both.
Legislative procedure in your chamber dictates that if no policy proposal receives a majority
vote, the majority leader may hold a vote between two proposals; then, the victorious proposal
will be considered against another proposal not yet voted upon, and so on until one proposal
receives a majority. As majority party leader, you get to decide which proposals are put to a
vote in the rst round. Assume that each faction (your faction, the other faction in your party,
and the opposition) will vote as a bloc and that no one can introduce any additional proposals.
(a) What will happen if you put all three proposals up for a vote in a single round? Explain.
(b) Assume that legislators will vote their sincere preferences. How should you structure a
multi-round vote? Explain. (15 points.)
(c) Now assume that legislators may vote strategically. Does this change how you structure
the vote? If so, how should you structure it now, and why? If not, why not? (15 points.)
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