AP Civics Chapter 8 Notes Political Parties, Candidates, and Campaigns: Defining the Voters Choice. I. Introduction

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1 AP Civics Chapter 8 Notes Political Parties, Candidates, and Campaigns: Defining the Voters Choice I. Introduction In 2000 Republican Party nominated George W. Bush for President (Dick Cheney V.P.) and stood for steep cut in personal taxes, limits on abortions, parental choice of schools, business deregulation, a partial privatization of the Social Security system, and delegation of authority to state and local governments The Democrats nominated Vice President Al Gore for President (Joseph Lieberman V.P.) and stood for tax cuts for middle and lower income families, reproductive freedom, protection of social security, restriction of hand guns, and pledges to strengthen the nation s environmental, educational, and health systems. America s political parties provide policy and leadership choices Competition between political parties is the foundation of the publics influence through elections Party s goal is to create a majority by bringing together individuals with diverse interests A Political Party is an ongoing coalition of interests joined together to try to get their candidates for public office elected under a common label Each political party is essentially three election parties in one: the party in the electorate (voters who identify with it and support its candidate), the party as candidate (those running for public office), and the party as a political organization (staffed and led by party activists) A shift from party-centered to candidate-centered politics began with the reforms initiated by the Democratic party following their divisive 1968 convention Candidate-centered Politics United States Election campaigns and other political processes in which candidates, not political parties, have most of the initiative and influence Party-centered Politics Europe No primaries Election campaigns and other political processes in which political parties, not individual candidates, hold most of the initiative and influence Two-Party System is seen in America in which only two political parties (Republicans and Democrats) have a real chance of acquiring control of the government Multiparty System in which three or more political parties have the capacity to gain control of government separately or in coalition U.S. Party Organizations (party organizational units at national, state, and local levels) are the weakest in the world and United States candidates are among the most independent While American parties don t have such a clear set of policy choices as class-based European parties, they can offer clear choices at certain times with specific issues II. Party Competition and Majority Rule: The History of U.S. Parties Political parties give direction and strength to the people s vote Party Competition narrows people s options to two and enables those with different opinions to render a common judgement In electing a party, voters choose it s candidates, policies, and philosophy over the other party A. Origins of the American Party System 1. Political parties developed as a spontaneous response to the need to organize for common purposes 2. The First Parties a. originated from the rivalry between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton 1

2 Federalist Hamilton Strong National Government Wealthy and commercial interests Favored ratification of the Constitution Republicans Jefferson States rights Small landholders, shopkeepers b. by the end of Monroe s second term, policy differences split the Republican Party (1) Jackson led the dominant faction retaining Jefferson s commitment to interests of farmers, tradesmen, etc. (2) Democratic-Republicans later shortened to Democrats 3. Andrew Jackson and Grassroots parties a. helped strengthen the power of popular majorities b. Grassroots Party is organized at the national, state, and local levels with membership open to all eligible voters c. Whig Party organized in opposition to Jackson and the Democrats but was short-lived (1) issue of slavery 4. Abraham Lincoln (Republican) wins the Election of 1860 with only 40% of popular vote a. Democratic Party split b. Republicans replace Whigs as the other dominant party c. Nation s party system collapsed in 1860 only time in American history (1) slavery and union too powerful to be settled peaceable through political compromise and competition between parties B. Republicans versus Democrats: Realignment and the Enduring Party System 1. The durability of the Republican and Democratic parties is due to their remarkable capacity to adapt during periods of crisis 2. Party Realignment a. rare event (must involve more than one election) b. Four basic elements: (1) disruption of established political order emergence of powerful and divisive issues (2) voters shift their support strongly in favor of one party (3) major change in policy through action of stronger party (4) enduring change in the party coalitions 3. The Civil War Realignment a. sectional lines (1) Republicans North (2) Democrats the Solid South 4. The 1890s Realignment a. Economic Panic of 1893 b. Republicans gained especially in the East (1) Woodrow Wilson only Democrat President in next four decades (2) Majority in Congress all but six years in the next four decades 5. The Great Depression and the 1930s Realignment a. President Hoover ( R ) was blamed for the Depression b. Democrats became the country s majority party (1) increased the social and economic role for the national government (2) Franklin D. Roosevelt s presidency business regulation and social welfare (3) Dwight D. Eisenhower only Republican President 6. An important and lasting impact of a realigning election is that the distribution of party identification in the electorate undergoes significant and enduring change C. Today s Party Alignment and Its Origin 1. The South has swung to the Republican side in last several years 2

3 2. Northeastern states have become more Democratic 3. Are the 1994 Republican winning of Congress and major victories in state legislatures and governorships a new realignment? a. victory built on deep public dissatisfaction 4. Just recently the Democratic Party has gained strength apparently in response to growing discontent with the Bush administration s handling of the conflict in Iraq and other issues 5. Some believe the electoral system is in the process of dealignment a. a partial but enduring movement of votes away from partisan loyalties b. split-ticket voting has replaced straight-ticket voting as the norm Split-ticket Voting Voters select candidates of both parties for different offices when casting a ballot Straight-ticket Voting Supporting candidates from one party only c. decline of partisanship began in 1960s/1970s III. Electoral and Party Systems A. The Single-member District System of Election 1. Election victory based on plurality of the votes in single-member districts-reinforces the twoparty tendency in American politics and hurts the chance of minor parties a. only the party that gets the most votes in a district wins the office 2. Proportional Representation is what we see in most European democracies a. seats in the legislative are allocated according to a party s share of the popular vote b. incentive for smaller parties to compete for power 3. A U.S. President can be elected without a popular vote majority a. only a strong party has a chance of gaining office b. in a system requiring a majority, minor parties can bargain for power in the runoff election 4. The Republican and Democratic parties create policies to help their candidates a. 1970s Congress established a system of public funding (1) major parties receive substantial money to run their campaign election (2) minor parties can get funding only if they receive 5% of the vote B. Politics and Coalitions in the Two-party System Political parties are an organizational mechanism for regulating conflict over political power by winning office. To win, they must attract majority support. Policy and coalition formation in a twoparty system requires compromise. If their appeal is too narrow, they lose. Only in periods of national crisis do the parties offer sharply defined alternatives. 1. Seeking the Center, Usually a. Most Americans prefer moderation to ideological extremism (1) leads major parties to advocate moderate and overlapping policy (2) parties seek the center b. Party activists act as a centrifugal force leading the party away from the center (1) Democratic activist: more liberal (2) Republican activist: more conservative c. Many activists and most candidates are more pragmatic than ideological in their choice of issues (1) avoid positions that will alienate moderate voters d. However, the center of the American political spectrum can be moved and clear choices between the parties given especially during times of national crisis (1) if public opinion shifts, the parties do to 3

4 (a) public opinion is the critical element in partisan change 2. Party Coalitions a. Party coalitions (1) involve the groups and interests that support a party (2) unlike European parties that tend to divide along class lines, American parties must appeal to a very wide range of interests as to achieve a voting plurality b. Each party likes to appear to be all things to all Americans, but in fact, builds its coalition through a process of both unification and division Republicans Less government involvement to promote economic security and social equality White Middle class Protestants Big business Democrats More government involvement to promote economic security and social equality Blacks The poor Jewish City dwellers c. The national party coalitions have a self- limiting feature (1) as a party builds its broad coalition in order to win, it plants the seed of factionalism because it cannot satisfy all the members of the coalition C. Minor Parties 1. Minor parties have existed throughout the history of American two-party competition 2. Minor parties have formed largely to advocate positions that their followers believe are not being adequately represented by either of the two major parties a. to increase its following, a minor party must broaden its platform 3. Minor parties that do attract a strong following force the major parties to address otherwise neglected issues 4. Viewed historically, minor parties have formed in response to the emergence of a single controversial issue, out of a commitment to a certain ideology or as a result of a rift within one of the major parties 5. Minor parties can be divided into three categories a. Single-issue parties (1) form around a single issue of overriding concern to its supporters b. Ideological parties (1) form around an ideological commitment or belief in a broad and radical philosophical position (2) the Populist Party of the 1890s was one of the strongest ideological parties in American history (a) platform: government ownership of railroads, graduated income tax, low tariffs, and elimination of gold standard c. Factional parties (1) irreconcilable conflict within the major parties produce factional parties who split from the major party (a) 1912 Theodore Roosevelt s Bull Moose Party split Republicans (b) in 1948 and 1968 the Democrats had Southern factions leave and form States Rights party and the American Independent party (2) deep divisions within a party give rise to factionalism and can lead eventually to a change in its coalition d. Independent candidates (1) money and media has allowed candidates to seek high level office without a party s backing IV. Party Organizations 4

5 Party activity in the United States engage in public education, recruiting candidates, conducting campaigns, contesting elections, and formulating platforms U.S. party organizations do not dominate any aspect of campaigns It is a politics of every candidate for himself, each with an individual campaign organization loyal only to the candidate and disbanded after the election (William Crotty) A. The Weakening of Party Organizations 1. Nomination refers to the selection of the individual who will run as the party s candidate in the general election a. until the early 20 th century, nominations were controlled by the parties, and a prospective candidate s loyalty was essential to solicit party support (1) willing to share with the party the spoils of office government jobs and contracts 2. The power of the parties declined with the introduction of primary elections (or direct primaries) a. a form of election in which voters choose a party s nominees for public office b. in most primaries, eligibility to vote is limited to voters who are registered members of the party 3. Primaries are the severest impediment imaginable to the strength of the party organization a. candidates can seek office on their own b. once elected can build independent electoral base Primaries Closed Primaries Open Primaries Blanket Primaries allows independents and voters of either party to vote in a party s primary most states limited to voters registered or declared at the polls as members of the party whose primary in being held Alaska and Washington Single primary ballot list both Republican and Democratic candidate by office 4. Most states winner of primary candidate with the most votes 5. Candidates have acquired control of campaign money 6. In Europe, primaries are not used to determine party nominations. They use the system of party-designated nominees and control their own affair, unregulated by state legislation 7. Control of Election Workers a. U.S. parties have depended on a small number of active members b. The party traditionally controlled patronage jobs. Although a few such jobs still exist, they are now controlled mainly by individual politicians rather than party organizations (1) today thousands of patronage jobs still exist (2) workers owe their jobs and loyalty to senators and congressmen not the party party rallies party control Old Politics New Politics media substantial amounts of money candidate control c. In Europe, campaign funding continues to be handled by the political parties (1) free television time is allocated directly to the parties, which controls its use and content 8. Control of Party Platforms 5

6 a. In the course of time, national political parties have also lost control of the national platforms to the candidate with the majority of the delegates in the presidential primaries or caucuses (1) traditionally, delegates were members of the party s leadership (b) developed a platform based on delegates common interests and commitments (2) today, both the platform and the vice-presidential selection are controlled by the nominee b. Platform, which was never officially binding on presidential candidates, has become even less relevant to candidates for the House and Senate (1) ignore national platforms, running on platforms of their own devising c. In Europe, party candidates not only campaign on the party platform, but are expected to support its provisions when in office B. The Structure and Role of Party Organizations American political parties have declined in importance at the local, state, and national level Structurally, U.S. parties are loose associations of national, state, and local organizations U.S. parties are not hierarchical (like we see in Europe) because of the nations federal system and tradition of local autonomy 1. Local Party Organizations a. There are about 500,000 elective offices in the United States, of which fewer than 500 are contested statewide and only two the presidency and vice-presidency are contested nationally (1) 95% of party activists work within local organizations b. Local parties strongest in urban areas and in the Northeast and Midwest c. Party organizations in the cities were once party machines that could guarantee electoral victory d. Party organizations become active during campaigns 2. State Party Organizations a. Headed by a central committee made up of members of local party organizations and local and state office holders (1) day to day operations chairperson full-time, paid employee of state party b. State party organizations have recently broadened their operations (1) advances in communications technology (2) concentrate on statewide races Governor and U.S. Senator 3. National Party Organizations a. National committee, national party chairperson, and support staff b. Headquarters for both RNC (Republican National Committee) and DNC (Democratic National Committee) located in Washington D.C. c. National party organizations concentrate on elections of national significance and run the presidential convention every four years (1) raise campaign funds and distribute them directly to candidates (2) Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), National Republican Congressional committee (NRCC), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), and National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) account for a large share of party funds provided to congressional candidates 4. The Parties and Money a. The political party plays a service role for the campaigns using new technology providing a fund-raising capability 6

7 b. Parties assist candidates for office, but have no power to require them to accept or campaign on the parties main policy positions (offer help to any of its candidates who have a chance of victory) (1) by embracing all of its candidates who run under its banner it increases the likelihood that the party will gain a congressional majority (2) the party may also acquire some additional loyalty from officeholders as a result of the contributions it makes to their campaign c. National party organizations play an important role in campaign finance Hard Money Campaign funds given directly to candidates to spend as they choose Subject to legal limits Party can give $10,000 directly to a House candidate and $37,000 to a Senate candidate $2000 maximum for individual contributions $5000 maximum for group contributions Soft Money Campaign contributions not subject to legal limits that go to the party for party activities that is beneficial to the candidate Ban on soft money V. The Candidate-Centered Campaign Today candidates tend to be self-starters Most candidates seek high office because they aspire a career in politics Play the election game A. Campaign Funds: The Money Chase 1. Candidates spend much of their time raising funds in order to compete successfully a. individual contributors, interest groups, and political parties 2. To run a successful campaign President (to gain nomination) Senate House $20 million $3 million $500, Incumbents have the advantage in raising money a. public visibility and political clout B. Organization and Strategy: Hired Guns 1. New politics is based on the mass media and requires an organizational structure of Hired Guns Campaign Consultants Pollsters Media Producers Fund Raising Experts campaign mangers identify messages important to voters 7 televised political advertising photo-ops talking to the media EMILY s Early money is like yeast, it makes the dough rise C. Packaging the Candidate 1. Refers to the process of recasting a candidate s record into an appealing image a. partisanship, policy positions, record, and personality to make the ideal candidate b. voters want a representative who is honest, able, straightforward, resolute, and responsive to their interests 2. Most candidates try to pin a negative image on their opponent a. more impact than positive ones b. often depresses voter turnout 3. Going Public: Air Wars and Spins a. battleground of the modern campaign is the mass media

8 (1) communicate directly to the voters b. in most democracies, political parties receive free airtime not in the United States c. Air wars (candidates use of television ads) d. Candidates try and put a positive spin on their news coverage while finding ways to lessen negative spins e. It is also important to get as many supporters to the polls to vote (get-out-the-vote) D. Web Wars 1. Each presidential candidate in 2000 had a website a. generate public support b. raise money c. attract volunteers 2. much cheaper than T.V. advertising VI. Parties, Candidates, and the Public s Influence Because European parties are strong national organizations they can offer their electorate a common national platform that is excepted by all its candidates United States cannot Advantages and disadvantages to candidate-centered campaigns Advantages Contributing flexibility and new blood to electoral politics Encourage nation s office holders to be responsive to local interests Disadvantages Diminish office holder accountability Inordinate influence of special interests Tendency for campaigns to degenerate into meaningless showmanship A blurring of the connection between electing and governing Makes it difficult for voters to act in unison Candidate-centered campaigns strengthen the relationship between the voters and their individual representatives while, at the same time, weakening the relationship between the full electorate and their representative institutions 8

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