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Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Mass Media PowerPoint Presentation
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Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Mass Media

Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Mass Media

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Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Mass Media

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  1. AP Government Review Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Mass Media

  2. Linkage Instutions • We use these to express our preferences regarding the development of public policy • Aka: INFORMAL INSTITUTIONS OF GOVERNMENT • These institutions include: • Political parties • Elections • The media • Special interest groups

  3. Political Party Characteristics • A group of people joined together by common philosophies • Main goal is nominating people who will get elected to offices at national, state, and local levels • There are local and national party organizations • They raise money to achieve their goals

  4. Political Party Functions • They: • Nominate candidates for office • Promote these candidates for election • Give candidates money to run for office • Develop a party platform • Coordinate and implement their policies • Maintain a “watchdog” function; aka “the loyal opposition,” if they do not succeed in getting their candidates elected

  5. Grassroots Politics • Political action on the local level • Organize on the local level with • Fundraising efforts • Holding town meetings for candidates • Building local coalitions to help candidates get elected • Targeting voter registration • Establishing voter contact through direct amilng and other media • Getting out the vote

  6. Party Realignment • The movement of voters from one political party to another resulting in a major shift in succeeding elections • Characterized by the start of a new party era as a result of what is called a “critical election” • Party eras can be broken down into three periods, each preceded by a critical election • After 1968 the era of Divided Government took over – Republicans in the White House and Democrats in Congress • 1980 – Democrats who voted for Reagan were called “Reagan Democrats” • 1994 – realignment again when Republicans took control of Congress for the first time in 40 years. Lasted until 2006

  7. Party Dealignment • Defined as voters moving away from the tow major political parties and declaring themselves as independent or aligning with a third political party • Takes place when the electorate becomes dissatisfied with the actions of the Democrats and Republicans • This dissatisfaction is measured by a decline in the Democratic and Republican party identification and the success of third-party candidates running for office • Third-party presidential candidates, George Wallace, Ross Perot, and Ralph Nader attracted voters from the Democratic and Republican parties and they had a major impact on the 1968, 1992, and 2000 elections

  8. Third Political Parties • Third parties have played a major role in influencing elections • They are described as ideological, single-issue-oriented, and personality driven They often influence the party platforms of the Democrats and Republicans • Examples: • Populist was successful in getting its reform policies of initiative, referendum, and receall adopted in many states • Independent Party 1968 with George Wallace took away electoral votes from Democrats • Reform Party w/Ross Perot in 1992 got about 20% of the vote • Green Party with Ralph Nader 2000 played the spoiler role

  9. 19th Century Party Eras • Party eras occur after a “critical election” • First party era was 1828 when Andrew Jackson running as a populist established Democratic dominance • Second party era was 1860 when Lincoln was elected as a Republican. • Reinforced in 1896 with McKinley defeating Bryan after forging an electoral coalition that included big business, skilled workers, progressives, and farmers

  10. 20th Century Party Eras • The third party era was in 1932 when FDR defeated Hoover. FDR won with a coalition of labor, minorities, and those people who were most impacted by the Depression. • This era lasted until 1968 when Nixon was elected, signaling the start of Republican dominance of the White House and Democratice dominance of Congress • The fourth party era, 1968 – Present is described at the era of “divided government”. One party controlled the White House, the other Congress. • Nixon, Reagan, and GHW Bush had to deal with Democratic Congresses • Clinton had to deal with the Republicans beginning in 1994 • GW Bush had the support of a Republican Congress until 2006

  11. Party Platform • Political Party Platforms outline: • Philosophy • Practice • Goals of the party • Platform is adopted at the national convention • Party differences over platform have led to splintered parties. • Example: • Strom Thurmond led a walkout from the 1948 Democratic convention in protest of the Deocrats pro-civil rights platform

  12. 2004 Party Platforms • The Democrat and Republican Platforms had different planks on what are called “hot button issues”. These included abortion, gay rights, and the war in Iraq • Abortion – • Democrats believe in a woman’s right to choose but feel that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare • Republicans support a constitutional amendment that would ban all abortions except in the case of rape or incest • Gay Rights – • Democrats were against a federal constitutional mendment that would define marriage as the union of a man and woman • Republicans favored the amendment • War in Iraq – • Democrats were critical of the way President Bush was executing the war • Republicans made the case that the war in Iraq was part of the global war on terrorism

  13. Contract with America • This was a blueprint for legislative action and congressional reform that House Republicans under the leadership of Newt Gingrich successfully campaigned for in the 1994 midterm elections • The new Republican majority passed legislation that included a line item beto, a crim bill that funded police, welfare reform tax cuts, a rise in the earnings limit for Social Security recipients, regulatory reform policies, legal reform to stop frivolous lawsuits, and a vote in favor of term limits for members of Congress • House voted to reform itself, cutting down the number of committees and their staffs and placing term limits on committee chairs • Key proposals like tax cuts, welfare reform, and regulatory reform were signed into law, but the rest that passed were vetoed by Clinton

  14. Independent Expenditures • This is defined by the federal election law as money spent by a political action committee or special-interest group that takes a position on an issue or candidate independently from the candidate’s campaign • The group must identify itself if it runs a political advertisement and must register with the Federal Election Commission • No limit on how much money can be spent on an independent expenditure, but the law requires the goup to identify the sources of the funds. • A “527” independent expenditure is made by a group that files with the IRS and gets the status of an independent group that can spend money taking a particular position

  15. Gerrymandering • The deliberate redrawing of legislative districts that favors one political party and heavily influences the outcome of the election • The purpose is to draw a district regardless of natural geographic boundaries so that the voters of one political party outnumber the voters of the other political party, which likely will result in the electoral victory of the majority political party registration • Courts can rule gerrymandered districts illegal using the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment

  16. Public Opinion Polls • These are used to measure the attitude and views of the American people on issues ranging from presidential job approval, congressional job approval, the “right direction-wrong direction” of the nation, and the presidential “horse race,” as well as views on specific policy issues • News organizations and polling organizations often team up to conduct these polls • The legitimacy of the polls is determined by a scientific random sampling of those people polled, the nature of the questions asked, creating a poll that has results that reflect a relatively low statistical margin of error, and is reported so that peole can easily understand the results. • Daily presidential tracking polls and exit polls taken often reflect voter trends.

  17. Dark Horse • A dark horse political candidate is a person running for office who is not considered the likely choice and starts out in the back of the pack • The media’s coverage of political campaigns as “horse race journalism” often designates candidates with fewer resources and who are relatively unknown as dark horse candidates • Jimmy Carter was considered a dark horse candidate until he won the Iowa Caucus in 1976 • Bill Clinton also started out as a dark horse candidate because he was so far behind in the polls when he declared his candidacy in the 1992 presidential election

  18. Presidential Job Approval Ratings • A president’s job approval rating is determined through public opinion polling. The rating is a “snapshot” in time and can vary from month to month based on events such as • war • the economy, • the president’s health • Scandal • Truman and GHW Bush had approval ratings close to 90% • Truman after WWII • Bush after the Gulf War • Truman and Nixon had the lowest ratings – below 30% • Truman in the middle of the Korean War • Nixon with the Watergate Scandal

  19. Exit Polls • A poll of randomly selected voters that is taken outside the voting area after the voter leaves it • The pollster asks who the person voted for, demographic info, and where they stand on the issues • Exit polls are used by the media as early indicators of who is winning the election • There’s a high margin for error • 2000 Election when early exit polls showed that Gore had won Florida • 2004 exit polls had Kerry winning

  20. Mass Media • Mass media is one of the linkage institutions that connects people to their elected representatives • Refers to the manner in which print and broadcast media communicate to their audiences • Encompasses print media and broadcast media. Mass media are one of the socialization agents that influence political values • New media refers to cable TV and Internet • Both have 24/7 ability to communicate with their audience • This is the primary means by which a presidential candidate gets exposure through televised debates, the use of political ads and the daily coverage of the candidates running for office.

  21. Photo Op and Sound Bites • A “photo op” refers to a photo opportunity that a politician stages for maximum publicity • The media’s coverage of a political campaign or a staged event results in many photo ops. • GW Bush landed on an Air Force carrier to announce the end of “major combat operations in Iraq” with a “Mission Accomplished” sign hanging in the background • A “sound bite” refers to a quote made by a politician during a campaign, as part of a political advertisement or as part of a speech • The media chooses a sound bite to represent the main theme of the statement • Reagan went to Berlin and said “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”

  22. Media Bias • The manner in which the media’s coverage is perceived as favoring a particular point of view • The media strive to cover stories with objectivity, using what they call the canons of good journalism • The “Fairness Doctrine”, scrapped in 1987 provided that the media air opposing opinions of the same issue and give all presidential candidates an equal opportunity to appear on media outlets • The increase in investigative reporting and adversarial reporting gave rise to complaints that the media was biased • Common complaints that are made are that there is a “liberal bias” or “conservative bias” in the media. There have been studies that support both claims

  23. Horse Race Journalism • Refers to the way the media covers political campaigns. • They are more interested in covering who’s ahead instead of the in-depth issues • Focuses on poll results and who is the front-runner • Critics contend that the media are primarily concerned with a 30- or 60- second sound bite or the photo op that helps make or break a candidate running for political office • Uses sports metaphors to describe the state of the campaign

  24. Media Frenzy • Denotes how the media cover a story in a way that creates news as well as covering news in multiple news cycles. With the onset of 24/7 cable news outlets and the Internet providing the ability to update a story as it happens, the frequency of the media jumping on and staying with a story increases • Examples: • Watergate • Gary Hart’s womanizing • Iran-Contra Affair • Clinton and Lewinsky • Disputed 2000 election • Media Frenzy has also been called “a media circus”. Critics of the media point to this type of coverage as proof that the media is more concerned with superficial coverage than substantive coverage of political events

  25. Media Outlets • Media Outlets include newspapers, magazines, the radio, television networks, cable news networks, and the Internet • Tlelvision and cable news networks attract the largest audiences for news coverage followed by the Internet, newsmagazines, and newspapers • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for the regulation of media content and media ownership • The concentration of private ownership of multiple media outlets by such corporations as The News Corporation and Time-Warner and the lack of diversity in the media are two areas that the FCC has investigated

  26. Government Regulation of the Media • The FCC has the responsibility of regulation the media, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates the merger of media outlets • The regulation of content by the FCC comes into conflict with the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and free press and the fact that the airways havealways been considered “public” • The FCC and the courts have dealt with issues related to the media broadcasting obscene material and the ability of the media to cover stories that deal with national security issues • Regulation of the media often comes into conflict with the major roles that the media play – reporting the news, interpreting the news, writing opinions about the news with the purpose of influencing the people or the government, and acting as an agent of political socialization

  27. Special-Interest Groups • This is one of the four linkage institutions that connects citizens with the formal institutions of government • Federalist #10 made reference to “factions” as an inevitable characteristic of a federal system of government • A special-interest group is defined as a linkage group that is a public or private organization, affiliation, or committee that has as its goal the dissemination of its membership’s viewpoint • One major difference between a special-interest group and a political party is that special-interest groups do not nominate peole to run for political office. The function of a special-interest group is to influence office holders, and special-interest groups are responsible only to a very narrow constitutency • Special-interest groups often act as an umbrella for lobbyists and political action committees, and special-interest groups can be categorized as economic, ideological, environmental, religious racial, or gender-oriented

  28. Lobbyists • Lobbyists are the primary vehicle for fostering a special-interest group’s goals to policymakers. The term came about from people who waited in the lobbies of legislative bodies to speak to the representatives • Lobbyists are paid by specfial-interest groups to promote their goals and offer legislators information about policies that the special-interest group supports. Lobbyists use different techniques such as direct lobbying, grassroots lobbying, public relations campaigns, media-oriented lobbying, and coalition building to get their point of view across • Lobbyists must register with the government and there are laws governing their behavior • Many former government officials become lobbyists after leaving the government

  29. Political Action Committees (PACs) • These are formed by special-interest groups and presidential candidates as a means of raising funds to support a cause or a candidate • Special-interest group PACs raise money from their constituents and make contributions to political campaigns on behalf of the special-interest group • PACs are regulated unter the McCain-Feingold law limiting their contributions to $5000 to a candidate for political office • There has been a large growth of PACs giving more money to incumbents than to challengers. The top contributors to political candidates are the Association of Trial Lawyers of American PAC, The international Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Committee on Political Education, The National Automobile Dealer’s Association, and the Realtors PAC.

  30. Direct Lobbying • This term refers to the attempt by lobbyists to directly influence legislation through communication with any member of a legislative body or with any government official that has any involvement with the formulation of legislation • An example of direct lobbying would be any money used to send lobbyists to Washington to influence legislators on a specific piece of legislation such as an energy bill • Special-interest groups can use their members to aid in the effort of direct lobbying by alerting them to the lobbying actions and asking the membership to call the representative to vote a certain way on the bill • Direct lobbying includes but is not limited to testifying before a committee of Congress and initiating lawsuits related to legislation

  31. Grassroots Lobbying • This is a form of indirect lobbying that refers to any attempt to influence legislation by affecting the opinions of the general public • Money used by a special-interest group for paid political ads urging citizens to contact their representatives would be a form of grassroots lobbying • When a special-interest group sends out a mailing to the general public, rather than only their own membership, urging them to take action on a certain issue, that would be considered a form of grassroots lobbying • Grassroots lobbying also involves interest groups’ general membership rather than a paid lobbyist who is based in Washington, DC • An example of a special-interest group that has used grassroots lobbying to its advantage is the National Rifle Association

  32. Key Special-Interest Groups • AARP – American Association for Retired People • AMA – American Medical Association • NAACP – National Association for the Advancement of Colored People • NAM – National Association of Manufacturers • NRA – National Rifle Association • VFW – Veterans of Foreign Wars • NOW – National Organization of Women • Greenpeace

  33. Coalition Building • This is the alliance of special-interest groups with the purpose of achieving the same goal. They usually form based on similar ideology. • Coalitions use both direct lobbying and grassroots lobbying • Often combine resources to attack issues on many different fronts, increasing the effectiveness of each organization’s efforts • Coalitions may have to compromise to stay together

  34. Lobbying Reform • A lobbying reform bill was signed into law by President G.W. Bush. The new rules are: • Lobbyists can not provide direct gifts or travel to legislators • Increased fines for violation of lobbying laws • Disclosure of campaign donations • Disclosure to FEC any contributions that exceed $15,000 in a six-month period • Former senators cannot lobby for two years after they leave the Senate. • A legislator’s spouse or immediate family member from lobbying their relative’s staff • Banning all gifts and trip offers to legislators and their staffs