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PLS 135 Course Playbook

Resources for research in political science, government, and international relations.



For this assignment, you will pretend you have decided to run for Congress from Virginia's 5th congressional district and you will write an essay about your campaign. You must use outside sources, including newspapers, and you must cite using the MLA style.

Before you start your research, make sure to read the assignment instructions several times, until you are sure you understand what is expected of you. If you have questions about the assignment parameters, please contact your instructor.

Gather This Information

For this assignment, you will need 5 things:

[1] A good knowledge of the demographics of the 5th District.  You should not pick a campaign issue until you know this.

  • My Congressional District will give you the needed demographics in the form of raw information about a district. You will need to analyze that data and come to conclusions yourself.
  • If you need information about individual towns, cities, etc., you can visit their official Web sites. Examples: Charlottesville, Martinsville, Danville

[2] A central issue

  • Your issue can come from your own experience, or you can read what politicians think the issues are by going to their websites or reading interviews.
  • Use local newspapers and news sites too, to identify issues and keep up with what is happening in the district. 

[3] Knowledge of what happened in previous elections

  • For statistical information about specific elections, use the Virginia Department of Elections
  • You can also search news sites and news databases for information about previous elections. Search by candidate name(s), year(s) and issue(s).
  • The Living Room Candidate contains TV ads from 1952-2020.  These can be useful to your own campaign.

[4] Knowledge of how to use the media (radio, TV, Internet, newspapers, social media) in your campaign

  • Search databases for information on political campaigns and media (for example, search EBSCO for political campaigns AND Twitter).

[5] Statistics


Books to Consider

Databases and Other Resources

Use the resources below to find information for your project. To learn how to use a resource, click the red "Tutorial" button if available.

Election Information

Campaign Strategy

Campaign consultant Jay Townsend shares tips on how to run a successful campaign.

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