Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Campaigns
Political Parties are organizations that nominate
candidates to compete in elections to compete in
elections, and promote policy ideas.
The two major political parties in the nation are the
Democratic Party and the Republican Party.
Political parties play a major role in the operation of
government at many levels.
The Condition of Political Parties
The number of people who identify themselves as a
member of one of the two major parties is only about
60% of the electorate, while the number of people
calling themselves independents is nearly 40%.
Ideology -core beliefs about the form and role of the
political system. Republicans tend to be more
conservative while Democrats are more liberal.
Ticket Splitting occurs when citizens vote for
candidates of different political parties in a general
Party Identification in the United States
State Party Organization
State party organizations differ in their organizational
vitality and resources.
Republican organizations are generally stronger
organizationally than their Democratic counterparts.
Factions, or subsets, can develop within political
parties. They may be organized around particular
political leaders or reflect divisions within a state.
The Two Party System
The two-party system has been in existence in the
United States for the past century and a half,
although third parties do exist and run in elections.
A divided government is a situation in which one party
controls the governor’s office and the other party
controls the legislature.
A unified government exists when both the governor’s
office and the legislature are controlled by the same
Interest groups are organizations of like-minded
individuals who desire to influence governmental
decisions and actions.
Success is determined by whether the group’s
preferences are enacted.
Many interest groups are active in state government
and a large number of them are ideological in nature,
meaning that they are focused on a higher good such
as clean air.
The Twenty Most Influential Interests in the
Techniques Used by Interest Groups
Interest groups have become effective at organizing
networks that exert pressure on legislators.
Interest groups try to influence the outcome of
elections by supporting candidates who reflect their
Lobbying is the process by which groups and
individuals attempt to influence policymakers.
Grassroots lobbying has seen a recent resurgence in
popularity. This form of lobbying has citizens
contacting public officials on behalf of shared public
Political Action Committees (PACs)
A Political Action Committee (PAC) is an organization
that raises and distributes campaign funds to
candidates for elective office.
PACs are narrowly focused subsets of interest groups,
which grew out of long-standing laws that made it
illegal for corporations and labor unions to
contribute directly to a candidate.
A New Era of Campaigns
Mass Media – candidates rely on direct mail and
electronic media to deliver their messages to voters.
Paid advertising is essential for reaching the public
and can be either generic or negative.
1. Sainthood spots
2. Testimonial spots
3. Bumper-sticker policy spots
4. Feel-good spots
The level of negative campaigning, especially through
advertising, has increased.
Negative campaign advertising can be fair, false, and
A fair ad can highlight true but embarrassing
indiscretions on the part of the candidate.
A false ad contains untrue statements.
A deceptive ad distorts the truth about a candidate.
The cost of campaigns has risen greatly in recent
elections. The spending is not only at the
gubernatorial level but at many levels of
More money is spent when the outcome of an election
is going to be close as uncertainty spurs spending.
527 Groups – these groups spend money to influence
the outcome of elections, but they do not contribute
directly to candidates. The actions of 527 groups can
negatively affect a state’s campaign finance laws.
Campaign Finance Reform
All states have some form of campaign-financing
reporting procedure to keep control over spending in
Although, the Supreme Court ruled in Buckley v. Valeo
(1976 ) that governments cannot limit a person’s right
to spend money in order to spread his/her views on
particular issues and candidates.
Therefore, a candidate can spend her own money on
her own behalf.