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Chapter 8 Political Parties, Candidates, and Campaigns: Defining the voter’s choice

Chapter 8 Political Parties, Candidates, and Campaigns: Defining the voter’s choice. Political Party. An ongoing coalition of interest joined together in an effort to get its candidate for public office elected under a common label.

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Chapter 8 Political Parties, Candidates, and Campaigns: Defining the voter’s choice

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  1. Chapter 8Political Parties,Candidates, andCampaigns:Defining the voter’s choice

  2. Political Party An ongoing coalition of interest joined together in an effort to get its candidate for public office elected under a common label. “It is the competition of parties that provides the people with an opportunity to make a choice. Without this opportunity popular sovereignty amounts to nothing.” E.E. Schattschneider

  3. Chapter 8 Main Points • Political competition in the United States has centered on two parties, a pattern that is explained by the nature of America’s electoral system, political institutions, and political culture. • To win an electoral majority, candidates of the two major parties must appeal to a diverse set of interest; this necessity normally leads them to advocate moderate and somewhat overlapping policies. • U.S. party organizations are decentralized, fragmented and weak. • The ability of America’s party organizations to control nominations and election to office is weak, which in turn enhances the candidates’ role. • Candidate-centered campaigns are based on the media and utilize the skills of professional consultants.

  4. The History of U.S. Parties The history of democratic government is virtually synonymous with the history of parties. When the United States was founded over two centuries ago, the formation of parties was the first step toward the building of its democracy. The reason is simple: it is the competition among parties that gives popular majorities a chance to influence how they will be governed.

  5. First Parties America’s early political leaders mistrusted parties: George Washington warned the nation of the “baneful effects” of political parties in his farewell address. America’s parties originated in the rivalry within George Washington’s administration between Thomas Jefferson (who supported states’ rights and small landholders) and Alexander Hamilton (who promoted a strong national government and commercial interest). Hamilton’s idea eventually prevailed in Congress. Jefferson and his followers formed a political party, the Republicans (Jeffersonians). Hamilton responded by organizing his supporters into a formal party – the Federalists. Thus, America’s first competitive party system was born.

  6. Republican Versus Democrats: Realignments • After the Civil War, the nation settled into the pattern of competition between the Republican and Democratic parties that has prevailed ever since. The durability of these two parties is due not to their ideological consistency but to their remarkable ability to adapt during periods of crisis. • Party Realignment – An election or set of elections in which the electorate responds strongly to an extraordinary powerful issue that has disrupted the established political order.

  7. Civil War Realignment The Republicans replaced the Democrats as the nation’s majority party. The Republicans were the dominant party in the larger and more populous North, while the Democratic party was left with a stronghold in what became none as the “Solid South”. Lincoln wins election with only 40% of the popular vote.

  8. The Great Depression Realignment The republican Herbert Hoover was president when the stock market crashed in 1929, and many Americans blamed Hoover, his party, and its business allies for the economic catastrophe that followed. The Democrats became the country’s majority party. Their political and policy agenda called for an expanded social and economic role for the national government. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency began a 32 year period of Democratic presidents that was interrupted only by Dwight D. Eisenhower’s two terms in the 1950’s.

  9. Today’s Party Alignment and Its Origin • Today, most top officials in the southern states are Republican. The Northeastern states have become more Democratic. The shift is partly attributable to the growing size of minority populations in the Northeast. • The GOP (short for “Grand Old Party” and another name for the Republican Party) has held the presidency for twice as many years as the Democrats since 1968. (reason) • Dealignment – A partial but enduring weakening of party members who don’t feel strongly enough about their party to go to the polls and vote.

  10. Electoral and Party Systems • The United States has traditionally had a two party system: EX. Federalist v. Jeffersonian Republicans, Whigs v. Democrats, Democrats v. Republicans • Two – Party System – Only two political parties have a real chance of acquiring control of government. (A two party system is the exception / not the rule.) • Multi – Party System – Three or more political parties have the capacity to gain control of government separately or in coalition.

  11. The Single-Member-District System of Election • Single-Member Districts – The form of representation in which only the candidate who gets the most votes in a district wins office. This system discourages minor parties. • European Democracies (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands) • Proportional Representation – Seats in the legislature are allocated proportionally according to each political party’s share of the popular vote.

  12. The Single-Member-District System of Election • **Best described as a “Hierarchical Structure” because it provides smaller parties an incentive to organize and compete for power. • Germany 2002 Election – Green Party receives 9% of popular vote and 55 seats in the German Parliament. Under the U.S. system, they would have won zilch.

  13. Politics and Coalitions in the Two – Party System • The overriding goal of a major American political party is to gain power by getting its candidates elected to public office. • American political parties are “creatures of compromise”. In other words, moderation is always the best policy. • Anytime a party makes a pronounced shift toward the extreme, the political center is left open for the opposing party.

  14. Politics and Coalitions in the Two – Party System • Example - 1972 Presidential Election George McGovern – Democratic nominee who took drastic positions on Vietnam and income security that alarmed many voters. • McGovern lost the election in one of the greatest landslides in political history. Popular Vote - 37% Democratic (McGovern) 63% Republican (Nixon) Electoral Vote - 3% Democratic 97% Republican (Only Massachusetts and D.C. voted Democratic)

  15. Political Point Moderation is the best policy. When the public’s mood changes, parties must also shift in a way not to alienate its members.

  16. Party Coalitions – The groups and interests that support a political party. • Americas two-party system requires each party to accommodate a wide range of interest in order to gain the voting plurality necessary to win elections. • There are only a few sizeable groups that are tightly aligned with a party. African Americans are the clearest example; they vote about 90% Democratic in national elections.

  17. If a party did not stand for something – if it never took sides – it would lose all support. Since the 1930’s, the major policy differences between the Republicans and the Democrats have involved the national governments role in solving social and economic problems. • Democratic Coalition – Usually draws support from society’s underdogs. ** African Americans, Union Members, the Poor, City Dwellers, Hispanics, Jews and other minorities – Northeastern States. • Republican Coalition Consists mainly of white middle-class Protestants. A party of tax cuts and business incentives that supports school prayer and opposes abortion and same-sex marriages. – Southern States

  18. Minor Parties • Although the U.S. electoral system discourages the formation of third parties, the nation has always had minor parties – more than a thousand over the nation’s history. • Main Purpose – Making the major parties more responsive to the public’s concerns by pulling votes away from them. • Three Types of Minor Parties: 1. Factional Parties 2.Single-Issue Parties 3. Ideological Parties

  19. Factional Parties • Internal conflict within a party leads a faction to a break away and form a party. • ** 1968 George Wallace’s “American Independent Party” – Formed by white southern Democrats angered by northern Democrats support of civil rights for African Americans.

  20. Single-Issue Parties • Parties that form around a single issue of overriding interest to it’s supporters. • Right to Life Party – Opposed abortion legislation. • Prohibition Party – Contributed to the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment (1919).

  21. Ideological Parties • Parties characterized by a broad and radical philosophical position. • The Green Party – Ideological party that holds liberal views on the environment, labor, taxation, social welfare and other issues. • Ralph Nader – 2000 Presidential Election – Nader received 3% of the national vote. Most of his support came form voters who would have voted for Democratic candidate Al Gore. Thus, tipping the election toward Republican nominee and current president, George W. Bush.

  22. Party Organizations** Main Purpose – the contesting of elections. • Nomination – Refers to the selection of the individual who will run as the party’s candidate in the general election. • Early Twentieth Century – Nominations were entirely the responsibility of party organizations • ** Led to extortion from those seeking political favors – “To the victors go the spoils”. • Patronage – Rewarding party workers for their loyalty with jobs / contracts. • Reform – Minded Progressives – Argued the power to nominate should rest with ordinary voter rather than with the party – leaders. (Result) • Primary Elections – A form of election in which voters choose a party’s nominees for public office.

  23. Forms of Primary Elections • Closed Primary – Participation is limited to voters registered or declared at the polls as members of the party whose primary is being held. (Held by most states) • Open Primary – Independents and voters of either party to vote in a party’s primary. • Primaries are the severest impediment to the strength of the party organization. If primaries did not exist, candidates would have to work through party organizations in order to get nominated.

  24. The Parties And Money • ** The parties’ major role in campaigns is the raising and spending of money. • A party can legally give $10,000 to a House candidate and $37,500 to a Senate candidate. This funding, along with the money a candidate receives from individual contributors ($2,000 maximum per contributor) and interest groups ($5,000 maximum per group) is termed Hard Money. It goes directly to the candidate and can be spent as he or she chooses. • Soft Money – Campaign contributions that are not subject to legal limits and are given to parties rather than directly to candidates.

  25. The Money Chase • Campaigns for high office are expensive, and the costs keep rising. In 1980, about $250 million was spent on all Senate and House campaigns combined. The figure topped $1 Billion in 2000. • A U.S. Senator must raise $20,000 a week on average throughout the entire six-year term in order to raise the $6 Million that it takes to run a competitive Senate campaign in many states.

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