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Chapter 12 Political Parties To Accompany Comprehensive, Alternate, and Texas EditionsAmerican Government: Roots and Reform, 10th editionKaren O’Connor and Larry J. Sabato Pearson Education, 2009
Political Parties Organized effort to gain power through elections. Consist of three entities. Governmental party, or the office holders. Organizational party, or the workers and activists. Party in the electorate, or the voters.
Roots of the Party System Federalists and Democratic-Republicans were earliest. 1820s Era of Good Feelings is relatively party-free. Whigs and Democrats after 1832. Development of the Republican Party in 1854.
Twentieth-Century Party System 1876-1912 was Golden Age of parties due to machines. Parties weakened in the modern era. Development of direct primary system. Changes in civil service laws. Growth of candidate-centered and issue-oriented politics. Increase in ticket-splitting.
Party Realignment During a realignment, party coalitions change. Critical elections put key issues into perspective. 1800, 1860, and 1932 were critical elections. No uniform realignment has occurred since 1932. Political system characterized by secular realignment.
Functions of the Party System Mobilizing support and building coalitions. Encouraging stability in the political system. Providing accountability for public policy. Running candidates for office. Providing a cue for voters. Formulating policy through a national party platform.
Minor Parties Winner-take-all system makes it difficult to win office. Sharp contrast to proportional systems used elsewhere. Rooted in sectionalism, protest, issues, and people. Do best when there is little trust in other parties. Can have success in putting issues on agenda.
Party Organization National committees, which hold conventions. State committees. Local committees. Informal groups, such as PACs and think tanks. Changed dramatically in recent years. New rules about soft and hard money have played role.
Party in Government Parties play a major role in organizing Congress. Parties shape perceptions of presidents. Presidents--to varying degrees--act as party leaders. Party may predict some judicial decisions.
Party in the Electorate Party identification shapes political worldview. May be shaped by demographic characteristics. South, middle-aged, and white-collar more Republican. Evangelicals and married more Republican. Women, minorities, and Jews more Democratic. Unions, advanced degrees, and single more Democratic.
Dealignment and Party Strength Argument that we are in a period of dealignment. Voters are much less likely to identify with a party. Result of the growth in issue-oriented politics. Parties are important in electorate and in government. Parties continue to be competitive with one another.