A2 G&P national party conventions

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  • 1. A2 G&P US Government and Politics National Party Conventions
  • 2. UNIT 3A: OUTLINE: KEY CONCEPTS KEY CONCEPTS  Open, closed and invisible primaries  The caucus system  The balanced ticket  Candidate and issue centred campaigns  Momentum  Soft and hard money  Negative campaigning  Insider and outsider candidates  Fixed terms  Swing states
  • 3. OUTLINE: KEY IDEAS Answering questions on this topic requires knowledge of:  The main characteristics of presidential and congressional elections and campaigns.  The main influences on their outcomes.  Candidate selection and nomination through the primary and caucus system and the role of the national nominating conventions  Debates concerning the workings and outcomes of the Electoral College and its impact on campaigns
  • 4. OUTLINE: KEY IDEAS Answering questions on this topic requires knowledge of:  The significance of money as a factor in electoral success.  The impact of the media on campaigns and candidates  Direct democracy at State level through the use of referendums  Initiatives, propositions and recall elections, and debates concerning their use  Comparisons with the UK electoral process to illustrate arguments
  • 5. National Party Conventions  Both parties (and some third parties) usually hold a National Party Convention during July or August of election year.  They usually last for four days.  In both 2008 and 2012 they held the conventions at the back end of August or early September.  The venue is decided at least a year in advance by each party’s National Committee.
  • 6. National Party Conventions  The Conventions are attended by delegates, most of them are chosen in the primaries and caucuses.  The US and World’s media also turn up!  Each evening of a convention will have a theme and a prime-time speaker. Here is a flavour of Democrats in 2008 - ‘One Nation’ – Michelle Obama - ‘Renewing America’s Promise’ - Hillary Clinton - ‘Securing America’s Future’ – Joe Biden - ‘Change you can believe in’ – Barack Obama
  • 7. Formal Functions of the Convention Choosing the party’s presidential candidate  In theory, the conventions choose the party’s presidential candidate in a roll-call vote, in which each state’s delegates announce which candidate they wish to vote for.  In the pre-reform days, delegates came to the convention and made up their minds in the convention hall.
  • 8. Formal Functions of the Convention Choosing the party’s presidential candidate  Now, the vast majority of delegates arrive at the convention as ‘committed delegates’ – committed, that is, to vote for a particular candidate in the first ballot if that candidate is still in the race.  As the number of committed delegates is known beforehand, the result is, these days, a foregone conclusion.
  • 9. Formal Functions of the Convention Choosing the party’s presidential candidate  To win the nomination, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the delegate votes.  In 2008 there were 4,418 delegates so Obama needed 2,210 to win.  The Republican Convention is always smaller. In 2008 there were 2,380 delegates so McCain needed 1,191 votes.
  • 10. Formal Functions of the Convention Choosing the party’s presidential candidate  It is more accurate to say that the Convention ‘confirms’ rather than chooses the candidate.  Not since the Republican convention of 1976 has the choice of presidential candidate been in any doubt at the opening of either party’s convention.  In that year Gerald Ford defeated Ronald Reagan by 1,187 votes to 1,070.  Had 60 delegates switched, Reagan would have won.
  • 11. Formal Functions of the Convention Choosing the party’s presidential candidate  If no candidate gains an absolute majority on the first ballot, balloting continues until one candidate does.  During these ballots, delegates become free agents, no longer committed to vote for one candidate.  In the 14 elections between 1900 and 1952 there were seven occasions when either one or both parties needed more than one ballot.  Since 1956 there have been no such occasions.
  • 12. Formal Functions of the Convention Choosing the vice-presidential candidate  Formally, the National Party Convention chooses the vice-presidential candidate, but, again, this function has been lost.  Not since 1956 has a convention chosen the vice- presidential candidate – or ‘running mate’, as they are called.  Nowadays, the running mate is chosen by the presidential candidate and confirmed by the convention.
  • 13. Formal Functions of the Convention Choosing the vice-presidential candidate  Traditionally, the vice-presidential candidate was announced on the third day.  But in 1984, Democrat Walter Mondale announced his choice of Geraldine Ferraro 4 days before the opening of his party’s convention.  Since then, the Democrats have always announced their candidate before the convention.  The Republicans have followed suit since 1996.
  • 14. Formal Functions of the Convention Deciding the party platform  The party platform is a document containing policies that the candidate intends to pursue if elected president.  It is put together by the Platform Committee under the direction of the party’s National Committee.  The Platform Committee holds hearings around the country during the first 6 months of the election year.
  • 15. Formal Functions of the Convention Deciding the party platform  In 2008, the Democrats held more than 1,600 ‘listening sessions’ in communities across all 50 states in which nearly 30,000 people from all walks of life participated.  The Republicans used their website to allow visitors to share their thoughts and participate in polls.  The National Committee then agrees to the draft platform which is then presented at the convention.
  • 16. Formal Functions of the Convention Deciding the party platform  There may be debates at the convention on various parts of the platform – known as ‘planks’.  More recently, parties have sought to avoid heated debates on policy issues at their conventions. Media portray this as a divided party.  Much of what is in the platform is mundane and expected although their can be differences.
  • 17. Informal Functions of the Convention Informal functions  Given that all three of the formal functions of the national party conventions are now questionable, it might appear that there is little point in holding them.  The importance of the conventions is in their informal, or hidden, functions.
  • 18. Informal Functions of the Convention Informal functions  These include: - Promoting Party Unity - Enthusing the party faithful - Enthusing the ordinary voters In three groups, use the extract to discover then present to the group why these functions are important.
  • 19. Discussion Question How important are modern day National Conventions?