On October 23rd, 2014, we updated our
By continuing to use LinkedIn’s SlideShare service, you agree to the revised terms, so please take a few minutes to review them.
A few political observers believe that political parties may soon go the way of "The OC" and Backstreet Boys. In the past, parties were needed to reach voters and raise campaign funds. But today, anyone with a fat wallet can access the public through the television, and the internet has introduced even more direct ways of contacting voters and raising cash. Perhaps the era of the large, centralized political party as a dominant institution of American politics is nearing its end.
Of course, not everyone believes that the parties are doomed to extinction. In fact, many believe that Barack Obama's recent election to the presidency signaled a new era of Democratic Party domination. But are they right, or are Democrats just fooling themselves?
Describe the organization of the two major parties.
Compare two party systems to multiparty systems.
How has the power of the political party declined in the US?
Dealignment and its impact on campaigns
What Should You Know…?
Realignment – define
Identify and describe four realigning periods in US political history
Identify the major voting coalitions of the major parties today
The Role of Political Parties
Role of Political Parties
Linkage Institution between citizens & gov’t.
1. identification with issues
2. means to gain access
3. way to affect public policy
Linkage Institution between branches of government
1. partisan affiliations of leaders of branches give a basis for cooperation in designing public policy
2. judicial appointees get their presidential nomination based on party affiliation
Role of Political Parties
Linkage Institution between state, local and federal government
1. Intersecting party relationships aid
cooperation between levels of government
and help to form public policy.
2. Governors have strong influence in party
3. State legislatures draw federal district
Role of Political Parties
D. Electioneering : Candidate selection and support
1. for local thru national office formal party
2. to run campaigns and select party agenda
E. Make policy preferences and agenda
1. legislative agendas for all levels of
2. work through President & executive
3. as an access point for special interests
History of Political Parties
"The Democrats seem to be basically nicer people, but they have demonstrated time and again that they have the management skills of celery. They're the kind of people who'd stop to help you change a flat, but would somehow manage to set your car on fire. I would be reluctant to entrust them with a Cuisinart, let alone the economy. The Republicans, on the other hand, would know how to fix your tire, but they wouldn't bother to stop because they'd want to be on time for Ugly Pants Night at the country club.”
Parties- Here & Abroad
Definition- a party is a group that seeks to elect candidates to public office by supplying them with a label by which they are known to the electorate.
(AKA- party identification)
Parties are not mentioned in the Constitution.
Arenas of politics in which political parties exist:
1) Label, in the minds of the voters
2) Organization, recruiting and campaigning for candidates.
3) Set of leaders, organize and try to control the legislative and executive branches.
***US parties have become weaker in all three arenas.
Decentralization of party power in the United States
Federalism decentralizes power.
National parties used to be a coalition of local parties.
Now parties organize at all levels and do not communicate well.
***ALL politics are LOCAL*****
Candidates are chosen through primaries not by party leaders.
The Unimportance of Parties
Americans do not join or pay dues to parties.
Parties rarely affect one’s daily thoughts
They remain separate from all other aspects of life.
The Rise and Fall of Parties
Founding fathers disliked parties, viewing them as factions (especially George Washington).
For parties to gain acceptance, people had to be able to distinguish between policy disputes and challenges to the legitimacy of government.
Jefferson - Jeffersonian Republicans
They were loose associations (caucuses) of political notables.
Republicans dominated - Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe
Problems of Early Parties
The largest issue was that they did not represent homogeneous economic interests.
They were always heterogeneous coalitions designed to win elections.
From Jackson to War
Late 1820s- political participation became a mass phenomenon.
1832- presidential electors chosen by popular vote in most states
Abandonment of presidential caucuses made up of congressman soon thereafter.
Beginning of national convention leading to more local control.
Civil War to 1930s
A lot of sectionalism due to slavery.
Most states were dominated by one party
1) factions emerge in each party.
2) Republicans had a factional party split from the base (also called a splinter party)- the Progressives.
The Political Machine
Definition- a party organization that recruits members via tangible incentives.
Prevalent in the US until early 1900s.
It has been curbed by civil service reform, voter registration, and social services being taken over by the federal and state government.
The Era of Reform
1930s until today
Progressives pushed to curb the power of the political parties.
3) Strict voter registration requirements to prevent fraud.
4) Civil service reform to eliminate patronage.
5) Introduction of referendums /initiatives
Effects of the progressive movement
1) Eliminated the worst forms of political corruption.
2) Weakened all political parties- parties became less able to hold officeholders accountable or to coordinate across the branches of government.
Parties in Elections & Third Parties
What is a “third party”?
Cite examples of third parties
Identify and describe major challenges to third party success in the United States today
History of Third Parties
Third parties have gotten great attention, but in fact h a ve not assumed the importance that all the academic attention on them suggests.
No minor third party as ever come close to winning the presidency:
ｷ Only 8 have won as much as a single electoral vote.
ｷ Only 5 third party candidates including TR in 1912 and Ross Perot in 1992 have won more than 10% of popular vote.
Minor Parties (3rd parties)
1) Ideological parties- comprehensive, radical views, most enduring
Examples include Communist, Socialist, Libertarians
2) One-issue parties- address one concern
Examples: Free Soil, Prohibition
3) Economic Protest parties- regional
Examples: Greenback, Populist
4) Factional parties- split from major party
Examples: Bull Moose, Christian Coalition
Factional parties probably have the greatest influence on public policy.
The BIG TWO may pay a heavy price if it fails to recognize the faction that has split from its party.
Critical Thinking: The US is the only major Western nation that does not have at least one significant and enduring national third party. Significance?
Purpose of Third Parties
1. The electoral progress of third parties is in direct proportion to the failure of the two major parties to incorporate new ideas
2. Influence: Major parties often take on the ideas of third parties.
The Democratic Party in 1896 incorporated much of the Populist Party’s platform.
The Republican Party in 1970s took on George Wallace’s “S t ates’ rights ” plank.
Both the Republican and Democratic Parties in 1992 took on Perot’s reform government ideas, reduce the deficit.
3 . Once the major parties incorporate their ideas, third parties b u rn out.
Parties in Elections
U.S. electoral system favors a two party dominance
Why a two party dominance
1. single member districts- one man/one vote
2. Electoral College – “winner take all”
3. plurality system stacks the deck against 3 rd parties
4. money – PAC money (contributions from interest
groups) goes to party with power
C. Third parties have little voice in public agenda
1. Electoral College system makes it impossible to win
states, even with broad support
2. have very little money because they have no power
Parties in Elections
Parties on the Spectrum
1. Democrats & Republicans are both centrist because
the majority of voters are in the middle of the
2. Successful third parties are not too extreme (Perot-
3. Most third parties are ideological
( Libertarian, Green, etc) and tend
to be to the right or left on the
4. An Independent is a voter who is
not affiliated with ANY party
Ross Perot- unusual style but garnered 19% of the vote! (other parties paid attention)
Nader - 2000 election
Today’s Party Structure
Parties are very similar on paper.
National convention has ultimate power. Meets every 4 years to nominate the presidential candidate.
National committee is composed of delegates from states; they manage the affairs between conventions.
Congressional campaign committees support the party’s congressional candidates.
National Chair manages daily work.
The structure of the two parties diverged in the late 1960s/early 70s.
The RNC moved to a bureaucratic structure; a well-financed party devoted to electing its candidates especially to Congress.
Democrats moved to a factionalized structure and redistributed power.
State and Local Parties
There is no hierarchal structure of political parties. Each level deals with its own issues. Ideas are not passed from national to state to local.
The only thing that flows from one level to another is money.
Democratic Party Changes
1972 Party Chairman Senator George McGovern revised the rules to weaken the control over delegates by local party leaders
More NA, AA, and women were reflected in the proportionality of delegates
Followed by changes in the rules committee by Barbara Mikulski (1974) and Morley Winograd (1976)
Finished up by Gov. Hunt (NC) in 1981
Democratic Party Changes
Equal distribution of delegates b/w men and women
Open delegate procedures with advance publicity and written notice
Selection of 75% of delegates at the level of congressional district or lower
Estb. of “goals” for representation of AA, NA, Hispanics
But what does all of this really entail…
Democratic Party Changes
Democratic Party Changes Dem and Rep changes shifted the ideological basis of the parties Superdelegates are 14% of delegate seats reserved for party leaders and elected officials - they DO NOT have to pledge to a candidate.
Republican Changes In Party Structure
RNC- 1970s used computerized mailing lists to raise money. Money was used to provide services for candidates, effectively becoming a national firm of political consultants.
DNC learned from RNC, but not as successful.
Both sent $$ to state parties, to sidestep federal spending limits (soft money).
National committee sets the time and place and tells each state its # of delegates and the rules for their selection.
Dems and Repubs have very different ways of awarding delegates.
In the 1970s, rule changes increased the number of women, blacks, youths, and Native Americans attending the Dem convention.
Trivia and History of National Conventions
On 16 July 1940, the delegates to the Democratic Convention meeting in Chicago heard the voice of God. During the months leading up to the convention, Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt had not clearly indicated whether he would break the two-term precedent set by George Washington and seek a third term. As a result, the Democrats were muddled in uncertainty, debating the qualities of other candidates and worrying about the political impact of a divided convention. On the second day of the convention, a message from Roosevelt was read to the delegates, stating that he would not seek the nomination. But as the crowd sat in disappointed silence, a booming voice filled the convention hall: "We want Roosevelt. The world wants Roosevelt." Delegates quickly picked up the chant and soon the phrase echoed through the entire arena. Two days later, convention delegates voted overwhelmingly to draft Roosevelt to represent the party in the November elections. And on 5 November, he was elected to a third term.
Trivia and History of National Conventions
Believe it or not, it wasn't God speaking to the delegates gathered in Chicago—it was Chicago's Superintendent of Sewers, Thomas Garry. Sitting in the convention hall basement with a microphone linked to the hall speakers, he waited for the right moment to start his chant. But whether from God or Garry, the heavens or the sewers, it made little difference to the course of the convention. A divisive battle was avoided and the Democrats were able to rally behind a consensus choice.
The drama of the 1940 Democratic convention belongs to another time in the history of America's political parties—a time when nominating conventions were dynamic and crucial events in the political process, a time when the party's nominee was actually chosen by the convention delegates. Today, conventions seem like little more than staged events, opportunities for the parties to demonstrate their unity and coronate their nominee. Delegates still attend, but they have little meaningful role; instead they appear interested only embarrassing their children by wearing outfits they would never wear back home.
So why have they changed? Why have conventions gone from dynamic, decision-making political events to political theater, from vital parts of the democratic process to political anachronisms?
Brief History of National Conventions
Why Are Conventions Just Pep Rallies Now?
The widespread use of primaries and caucuses has resulted in party nominees being determined before the conventions actually convene during the summer
Primaries and Delegates
In the early stages of the primary season, the two or three most viable candidates are culled from the long list of contenders, and by late spring, one has usually secured the necessary number of delegates. In the unlikely event that a single candidate has not sewn up the nomination, the Democratic Party has taken additional steps to avoid a contentious, divided convention: Superdelegates.
States are awarded Superdelegates based on the state party's effectiveness in delivering their votes in the preceding presidential election. These Superdelegates are free to vote for whomever they want. But a clear priority among these Superdelegates has been party unity; consequently, they have tended to vote for the frontrunner to secure or strengthen his majority. Such was the case in 1984, when Walter Mondale was 40 votes short of the nomination. The threat of a divided convention was quickly ended by the Superdelegates who gave Mondale the majority he needed.
Formulas are used by both parties to allocate their delegates to the national convention.
The Republicans reward those states that consistently favor their candidates in presidential and congressional elections.
Democrats reward larger states that consistently support their candidates.
The result is that republicans give more delegates to states from the South and Southwest, whereas the democrats give to the North and West.
Today’s national convention is similar to a large pep rally for the nominee. It is used to ratify the choices made by the voters during the primary season.
The party in power (executive branch) has their convention after the party seeking office holds their convention. Usually a week or two after.
In short, the changing role of conventions is largely a reflection of the increasing democratization of the nomination process. In more states, more party members participate directly in the actual selection of the party nominee. The goal of opening up the process, as envisioned by Progressive reformers in the early 20th century, has been accomplished.
It's true that we are now left with curious political rituals every four years: pageants filled with endless speeches, balloon orgies, and ridiculous hats. But the real drama has been taken from the convention hall to the campaign trail—where it should be in a democracy.
Types of Political Parties
Ideological- based on an agenda covering many topics. Very factionalized.
Solidary groups- based on friendships. Not very hard working.
Sponsored parties- created by an organization. Not very common in US.
Personal following- name recognition, $$, favorite son (ex. Kennedys (MA), Longs (LA), Perot (1992, 1996)
Two Party System
The Two-Party System
Rarity among nations today.
Why does it exist in America?
1) Electoral system- winner-take-all system and plurality system limit the number of parties.
2) Opinions of voters- if one is failing we try the other for a little while
3) State laws make it very difficult for third parties to get on the ballot.
Nominating a President
Two forces acting together:
1) Party’s desire to win office motivates it to seek an appealing candidate
2) Party’s desire to acquiesce dissidents within the party forces a compromise with more extreme views.
Are the Delegates Representative of the voter?
NO!!!!! Democratic delegates are much more liberal and Republican delegates are much more conservative than your rank and file voter.
Yet, people that participate in caucuses and primaries are similar ideologically to those who participate in the general election.
Caucus v. Primary
A caucus is a much more involved process than a primary.
Due to this, only the most dedicated partisans attend.
This leads to some of the most ideological candidates (more extreme) winning or doing very well in the caucus.
Democrats v. Republicans
Since 1968 Democrats have won more congressional elections than presidential elections.
Candidates are out of step with the average voter on social and tax issues.
Rank and file dems and repubs differ very little on political issues.
The difficult thing for candidates is appealing to the average voter, while not losing the support of the more extreme delegates.
REPUBLICANS – since Reagan have been to the right of center
businessmen / corporate execs/
wealthy / men (slightly)
suburban/ WASPs / religious right/
pro life supporters ( including Catholics )
conservative Southerners/ veterans
disaffected blue collar Democrats/
fiscally conservative men & women
B. Democrats – still focus on FDR & New
Supported by: ( New Deal coalition)
blue collar workers/unions
less wealthy/ ethnic minorities esp.
African Americans/ urban /
women (slightly)/ pro choice/ Jews/
pro gay rights/younger persons
C. Factors that weaken support
1. numerous primaries
2. public financing of campaigns – tax check-off
3. scandals within parties or with individual
4. general media coverage about the party & it’s
POLITICAL PARTIES & DIVIDED GOVERNMENT
Political Parties in Government
Historical periods in which a majority of votes cling to the party in power.
1860-1884 – Republican anti-slavery
1936-1952 – Democrats New Deal Coalition
An electoral “earthquake” where new issues and new coalitions emerge
1994 – Republican Revolution
The displacement of the majority party by the minority party, usually during a critical election.
- Should include both branches for 10 year period
What is Divided Government ?
Divided Government is the situation in which the White House and at least one house of Congress are controlled by different parties.
Can also be seen on the state level of government.
Causes of Divided Government
Party dealignment – people are moving away from party voting and often engage in ticket-splitting
Voters are choosing candidates from different parties for different branches of government – resulting in a Republican President & Democratic Congress or vice-versa.
Causes of Divided Government
Voters are sometimes making their own “checks & balances” by voting for different parties so that the branches or the two houses of Congress will “check” one another.
This happens in state government (like VA) when Governor may be Democratic (Warner) and House/Senate may be Republican
Consequences of Divided Government
More “checks” than “balance” – different branches will check each others power and may result in gridlock
One branch can try to pursue policy within the realm of their control – unilaterally – more difficult if division is within Congress
Either side may try to appeal to public opinion to force the other side to agree
Things get settled by the Judicial Branch
Divided Government Today
Clinton era: 1992 – 2000
1992 to 1994 : party era with democratic control of executive & legislative branches
1994 to 2000: divided government begins with the Republican Revolution esp. takeover of House
Bush era: 2000 – 2008
2001 to 2002:divided government – Dem. Senate
- 2002 to 2004…: party era with control of both branches