Political Parties

Linkage Institutions 2014
Basic Rotation of US Elections
Illustrates diff types of federal elections
Add to vocab
• Candidate centered
• Soft money
• Gerrymandering
Elections are CANDIDATE
Centered—much more than most other liberal democracies
candidate selection here is an individual
decision as opposed to an organizational
decision by a political party. Here, you
run, you raise the money you get the
signatures, you get yourself on the
ballot and voters vote for you. Even if
parities involved, they have little
control due to the unique direct primary.
Political Parties . . .
In 1870, political cartoonist Thomas Nast depicted the Democratic Party with a donkey in a
New York City-based magazine, "Harper’s Weekly." Andrew Jackson, a Democrat, had
already used the donkey on posters during his 1828 presidential campaign In 1874, another
Nast cartoon in "Harper’s Weekly" used an elephant to represent Republican voters who
were dissatisfied with the prospect of President Ulysses S. Grant running for a third term.
Nast used the elephant in another "Harper’s Weekly" cartoon two weeks later. Other political
cartoonists picked up on the animals as symbols of their respective political parties. Today,
the Democrats use the donkey as an unofficial symbol, while the Republicans officially
adopted the elephant as their party mascot. Nast’s 1870 and 1874 cartoons are shown
The Conventional Wisdom:
Versus: George Washington in 1796 farewell address: “Let me warn you in
the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party
generally. This spirit . . . exists under different shapes in government, more or
less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen
in its greater rankness and is truly their worst enemy.”
Functions of Political Parties . . .
Are they vital to liberal democracy?
Elections: what is liberal democ w/o competitive
Nominate candidates (but . . . rise of primaries
weakens them)
Unify diverse interests
key diff b/w them and Igs;
By bringing together diff people and
Raise funds for their candidates (but . . .
ideas they help establish the means by
Superpacs) (electioneering)
which a majority can rule—w/o them
Run Campaigns (but candidate centered—use the pol process would be too
fragmented; but b/c they are a
media) (electionereing)
relatively heterogeneous group, they
Provide a platform of issues
also prevent tyranny of the majority
Mobilize voters: Registering and GOTV
and act as a modifying inflence
Giving cues to voters
What’s democracy w/o voters?
Linkage Institution
Organizing Government
• Articulate policies
The party is essentially a link between the citizen and the
state; party is one of the devices which makes possible citizen
influence on the policies of government.
what is democ w/o citizen control?
Coordinate policy making
The Media and Campaigns
In the US, campaigns are much more candidate centered—and less
based on the _________ __________
Media coverage: horserace aspect, polls, feeding frenzy, coverage of
candidates background, focus on candidate gaffes
Candidates have contributed to this: use media to bypass parties, sound
bites, media events, negative commercials against opposing candidates,
leaking information, image building (hiring consultants, picture of
families , going on talk shows)
Interest groups contribute: 501c (3) g0rups and 527 groups like
SwiftBoat Veterans for Truth and Move on; remember independent
expenditures and “issue” ads: see articles and
But will Citizen’s United change this to be . . . . Interest group centered?
Things to remember about American Political
Parties . . . .
Our parties are relatively weak compared to other liberal
democracies . . .
Decentralized—organized as a stratarchy
Stratarchy is an organization in which each
strata (or layer) is independent of every
other strata. Each unit within a strata also
is independent of every other unit within
that strata.
Meaning . . . They can’t call for elections, their governing power
might be weakened by divided government, they don’t have many
ways to discipline members who don’t vote the party platform,
and anyone can say they are running on their ticket—like it or not
In other systems, (like Canada), a bad party member can be relegated to the back bench,
s/he won’t get “parachuted” into a safe seat, some systems even say you can lose your
seat if you don’t vote with the party and the biggest consequence of all: if govt loses
something they have designated a “vote of confidence” new elections mean the MP may
lose his or her seat
Why are parties weak?
•Separation of powers
•Political culture
•pluralism (many access points)
•Lots of media outlets (don’t need parties to get
message out)
•Stronger Igs (other options)
It is an election by secret ballot in which voters choose a political
party’s candidate for office in an election .
an election that narrows the field of candidates before an
election for office
http://robinrobinsonforjudge.com/primary-sample-ballotsrepublican-and-democratic/ to see an example of a primary
• _________primaries (or pick-a-party) are those
in which voters of any affiliation may vote for the
slate of any party.
• ________primaries are those in which only the
voters affiliated with a party may vote in its
• ________primaries (or “jungle primaries” “free
love” primaries) are those in which voters,
regardless of affiliation, may choose the party
primary in which they want to vote on an officeby-office basis. The blanket primary was struck
down in 2001 by the Supreme Court in CA
Democratic Party v. Jones.
Cartoon from the 1934 campaign to create a blanket primary
See what we ended up with in Wa State
Witness the sleazy fisher
State To Appeal Blanket Primary Ruling
Published: Sep 19, 2003
OLYMPIA - Washington state will appeal a federal court decision that
abolished the state's popular 68-year-old blanket primary that allows voters to
split their tickets and avoid party registration. Secretary of State Sam Reed, a
Republican, and Attorney General Christine Gregoire, a Democrat,
announced Friday that the state will ask the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals to rehear the decision made by one of its three-judge panels.
The political parties called the new appeal a big waste of taxpayer money on
a challenge that has no chance of succeeding.
The appeals panel, drawing
from a U.S. Supreme Court
decision that threw out a
virtually identical system in
California in 2000, said
allowing all registered voters
to pick nominees clearly
violates the parties'
constitutional right to pick
their own standard bearers.
Are primaries for congressional
seats direct or indirect?
indirect primary
noun U.S. politics. a primary in
which members of a party elect delegates to a
party convention that in turn elects the party's
direct primary — n
( US ) government a primary in which voters
directly select the candidates who will run for
A few points about elections for congress:
ALL primaries for Members of Congress are direct elections but
voter qualification criteria varies
The primaries for the nomination of presidential candidates are INDIRECT
General election ballot
• http://www.kitsapgov.com/aud/elections/arc
• Also to find your legislator:
The history of soft money . . .
Buckley v. Valeo" (1976) ruled that contributions to campaign known
as “hard money” could be regulated.
"Soft money" came to refer to unregulated money donated to
political parties that was supposed to be used for state and local
elections and generic “party-building” activities, including voter
registration campaigns and get-out-the-vote drives. Soon it also was
used for “issue ads” It was not regulated.
Why issue ads? Buckley v. Valeo also held that only speech that
expressly advocated the election or defeat of a candidate could be
regulated (but not a discussion of issues)
the distinction between “issue ads” and “election communications”
• Candidate X runs an ad that says, "I am a good person.
Candidate Y is a bad person. Vote for me on election day."
Because of the "Vote for me..." portion . . . "hard money."
• Candidate Y runs an ad that says, "Candidate X has a record
that includes awful things. If these awful things continue,
people will come to your house, steal your money and shoot
your dog. Be sure to vote on election day.“ No express
advocacy so it is an “issue ad” and can be paid for with soft
So soft money made parties stronger. . . . .
But The McCain Feingold Act (the BCRA) banned soft money. . .
Why are
• . . . parties have less money to spend on e__________ function
• As a result, many of the soft money-funded activities previously undertaken by
political parties have been taken over by independent expenditure groups
Why are parties weak?
They can’t
compete with
Bring Back the
The campaign-finance laws have
made the presidential selection
process a self-destructive mess.
The question asked everywhere is, Why is this the field? How did it come to this? Desperate questions bring desperate
answers, such that I have been overheard mumbling of late: "Maybe it's time to bring back the smoke-filled rooms."
This was the nearly mythical system of selection in which party leaders and party bosses gathered over cigars, bourbon
and branch to pick a candidate "who could win." The most famous smoke-filled room pick was William McKinley,
anointed for the 1896 election by Ohio kingmaker Mark Hanna (though in fact Hanna got McKinley nominated over the
opposition of GOP party bosses).
Effect of Weak Parties . . .
Hard for voters to indicate an approach to governing:
Hard to hold one party responsible
Elected officials don’t do what party platform says
Tendency to middle
But . . . may lend itself to stability, be a better way to meet needs of
all, and is in keeping with our individual emphasis
Party functions
Our parties are weak for many reasons but with a focus on
media, primaries and campaign finance laws
What’s the diff b/w parties
Rising partisanship
“Safire’s New Political Dictionary” defines a
smoke-filled room as “a place of political
intrigue and chicanery, where candidates are
selected by party bosses in cigar-chewing
Is there a “dimes worth of
difference b/w the parties?
Consider ideology
Consider supporters
The Gallup Religiosity Index, 2009. (light color indicates
religious, dark nonreligious)[1]
Safety Net Policies
Programs indented to protect from
hardship or loss or to guarantee a
minimal amount of physical, or
financial security
• See other ahem . . . Cleavages 
(orthoclase) is
often pinkish in
color and displays
the property of
cleavage, the
tendency to break
along flat planes.
It is harder than
Pick 2 cleavages (race, gender, education etc) and 2 sides. Explain why
each side in the cleavage might prefer the candidate they do, given the
platforms of the respective parties.
Cleavage one: Education level
Side a: high school graduate
Side b: Post-graduate degree
Cleavage two:
Side a
Side b
Reinforcing and Cross-Cutting Cleavages
Societal cleavages (e.g. race, class, religion, gender, region, etc) can produce conflict
and disagreement among the population over politics and policy.
Reinforcing Cleavages
•If cleavages overlap with each other, this can heighten the conflict and be more
•The disagreements produced by one division (e.g. class), will reinforce the divisions
produced by another (e.g. race).
•Finding agreement and compromise across groups in this situation can be that much
more difficult.
Cross-cutting Cleavages
•If cleavages cut across each other, this can lessen the presence of conflict across
•Disagreements produced by one division can produce cross-pressures for individuals
and mitigate the divisions they may experience by way of another cleavage
•Cross-pressures help produce "bridges" across the cleavages, making agreement and
compromise more likely
See images to illustrate: http://desart.us/courses/3180/cleavages.html
Gender Gap in 2012 Vote Is
Largest in Gallup's History
by Jeffrey M. Jones
PRINCETON, NJ -- President Barack
Obama won the two-party vote among
female voters in the 2012 election by 12
points, 56% to 44%, over Republican
challenger Mitt Romney. Meanwhile,
Romney won among men by an eightpoint margin, 54% to 46%. That total
20-point gender gap is the largest
Gallup has measured in a presidential
election since it began compiling the
vote by major subgroups in 1952.
. . . There are a number of possible
reasons for the increase in the gender gap
this year. For example, Romney's
business background may have been more
appealing to men than to women.
Obama's campaign stressed maintaining the social safety net, raising taxes on the wealthy,
maintaining abortion rights, and requiring healthcare coverage for contraception -- all in
contrast to Romney's more conservative positions on these issues of potential interest to
Groups are not monolithic either
Latino/a vote by ancestry
See also http://wwwpersonal.umich.edu/~mejn/ele
Reminds me of “the most important candidate quality” in exit polls
The White Vote
For a reflection see: By Karl Rove
June 27, 2013
More White Votes Alone Won't Save the GOP
To win the presidency in 2016, the party needs to do better with Hispanics.
Parties are
(a) Describe three groups that were significant in President Obama's electoral coalition and
explain why each was important
(b) Describe the problems that President Obama may have in sustaining his winning
The parties themselves have divisions with in them . . .
Here Come the
Economic Populists
November 26, 2006
Fiscal vs Social Conservatives
• would argue that the government should be
small, especially when it comes to taxation,
government expenditures and deficits, and
government debt VS. . . .
• Argues that government and/or society have
a role in encouraging or enforcing what they
consider traditional values or behaviors
November 27, 2011, 11:34 pm 509 Comments
The Future of the Obama Coalition
By THOMAS B. EDSALL For decades, Democrats have suffered
continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But
preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it
clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white
working class.
All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class
has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left
coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead
on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists,
designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians,
social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial
constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately
African-American and Hispanic.
Next Points
• Parties are more distinct
• Growing Partisanship—why and
• We have a 2 party dominant System
What does this define?
Firm adherence to a political party
Contrast this: Of, consisting of, or supported by members of two
parties, especially two major political parties
The parties are becoming more distinct . . . . From the Economist:
Motion dismissed
Jul 14th 2005
American politics is both too rigid and too flexible
AMERICAN society has been getting less like Europe's. It is growing faster and ageing more
slowly, it is geographically more mobile and (dare one say it) has become more divided
between rich and poor. Yet at the same time, the structure of American politics (though
not its ideology) is getting more “European”. Political parties are becoming more coherent
in their beliefs, and the system of government is more centralised. . . .
This does not mean that party structures themselves have strengthened. In fact, in terms of
raising money they are weaker than they have been throughout most of American history.
But the parties are ideologically more distinct. And within the parties, politicians are
more partisan and less diverse in their backgrounds.
. . . American parties used to be ad hoc cliques and loose regional coalitions. Party
grandees chose likely candidates on the basis of patronage and loyalty, not ideology. But
the defection of conservative southerners from Democrats to Republicans—and the
mirror-image move of north-eastern Republicans to Democrats—made both parties'
ideologies much clearer. Now almost all conservatives are Republican and almost all
liberals are Democrats. When George Wallace was governor of Alabama, he used to say
that there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the parties. You could not say that
Above all, polarisation has grown in the electorate, evidenced by a sharp
decline in split-ticket voting (choosing a president from one party and a
congressional representative from another). In 1972, 44% of congressmen
and women represented a different party from the one whose presidential
candidate carried their district. In 2000, the share was under 20%.
The truly independent voter seems to be disappearing. That may seem
curious, because those who call themselves independents easily outnumber
self-identified Democrats or Republicans. Yet most so-called independents
vote consistently one way or the other. The White House reckons that less
than one-third of independent voters actually switched parties in the past
three elections.
With the decline of swing voters, there seems less and less point in running
presidential campaigns to appeal to the slim middle. Instead, elections have
become contests to mobilise core supporters.
Rising partisanship-why?
•Shrinking political center as parties get more homogenous
•Redistricting creates safe seats
•Govt controlled by slim majority so imperative that loyalty be
•Congressional lifestyles—fewer live in DC so don’t socialize
•Money: more time needed to raise money, so don’t socialize
•Media lives on accentuating, and in some cases manufacturing,
differences. “The twenty-four/seven media cycle means
policymakers must take more time to feed the beast.”
•American public: see Pew Research values study
Rising partisanship
A party-line vote in a deliberative assembly (such as a constituent
assembly, parliament, or legislature) is a vote in which every
member of a political party votes the same way (usually in
opposition to the other political party(ies) whose members vote the
opposite way).
See the vote on Obamacare:
Partisan Polarization Surges in Bush, Obama Years
Trends in American Values: 1987-2012
In recent years, both parties have become
smaller and more ideologically
homogeneous. Republicans are dominated
by self-described conservatives, while a
smaller but growing number of Democrats
call themselves liberals. Among
Republicans, conservatives continue to
outnumber moderates by about two-to-one.
And there are now as many liberal
Democrats as moderate Democrats.
Few people recognize that the previous bipartisan era was an aberration,
not the historical norm. Consider, for instance, this plot of estimated
party polarization in Congress:
Redistricting creating safe seats
As the economist says . . .. . . In a normal democracy,
voters choose their representatives. In America, it is
rapidly becoming the other way around
How does redistricting create a growing partisanship in Congress . . .
Again, from another Economist article: Partisanship is also evident
in redistricting, which has increased the number of safe seats
towards North Korean levels. In 2004, only 30-40 congressional
seats are likely to be truly competitive—a quarter of the number in
the 1990s. Since 1964, the share of House incumbents re-elected
with over 60% of the vote has risen from 58% to 77%. This makes
congressmen's politics more extreme.
If your district is rock-solid, you have little reason to fear that
voters will kick you out for moving too far from their
opinions. The main threat comes from party activists, who tend to
be more extreme in their views and can propose a challenger in
primary elections. So the dangers of drifting too far to the middle
outweigh those of drifting too far to the extremes. Partisan
redistricting marginalises centrist voters, aligns the views of
candidates more closely with extremists on each side and
radicalises politics
See the following: explains packing and cracking
And CPJ Grey:
Gerrymandering should not be confused with malaportionment,
where the number of eligible voters per elected representative can
vary widely
Result of redistricting . . . “safe seats” which means:
Elections less competitive
Incumbent advantage enhanced
More partisanship
Rising partisanship plus divided government leads to . . ..
effects of partisanship in Congress. . .
Confirmation battles leading to declining
judicial confirmation rates and 100s of posts not
More effects . . . Rise of the filibuster
At first, “filibuster” referred to a “free booter” or “pirate”, who engaged in illegal
activities for self gain; then it became “an endless discourse to impede the passage of
an ‘unwanted’ congressional bill”.
And more effects
Effect of Divided Govt. especially when coupled with more
Gov’t shutdown of 95-96; 2013
BUT GRIDLOCK was the founders point
Other things to remember about parties . . . We have a 2 party system
But also American political culture:
not ideological,
no history of anti-capitalism,
strong IG give other options
Third Parties have a lot of disadvantages:
Lack name recognition
Ballot access harder
No matching funds in presidential races (unless party got 5% of the
vote in last election)
Perception of “wasted vote”
Excluded from debates (unless 15% support)
Lack organization
If your support is spread out, WTA hurts you
Notable Third Party Candidates
•Ross Perot (Reform Party). A Texas billionaire with no experience in government, Perot
captured public attention during the 1992 election for his focus on the budget deficit and his
promises to bring his corporate successes to the White House. Perot participated in three
presidential debates against Bill Clinton and George H. Bush, and won about 18 percent of
the popular vote (studies have shown that Clinton probably would have still won had Perot not
run, though Perot did cost Clinton a majority of the popular vote). Perot ran again in 1996
but with less success; he was not invited to participate in the presidential debates
between Clinton and Bob Dole, and won about 8.4 percent of the vote.
Ralph Nader (Green Party). A long-time consumer advocate, Nader first ran in 1996 with a
nominal campaign but became a more active candidate in 2000, saying that he was both
criticizing the Democratic Party as well as trying to build the Green Party as a viable and
stable third-party. Nader won about 2 percent of the popular vote in 2000
Representative John Anderson of Illinois (National Unity Campaign).
Originally a moderate Republican, Anderson dropped out of the 1980
Republican primary in favor of Ronald Reagan, but continued his campaign
as an independent candidate. He participated in one presidential debate with
Reagan (Carter refused to debate Anderson), and won about 6 percent of the
popular vote.
•Governor George Wallace (American Independent Party). The last third-party
candidate to win any electoral votes, Wallace split from the Democratic Party to
run a campaign against the extension of civil rights and in favor of the Vietnam
War. He had strong results in the South and won 13.5 percent of the popular vote
and 48 electoral seats. Wallace subsequently returned to the Democratic Party.
Gov. George Wallace blocks the
doorway to Foster Auditorium at the
University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa,
June 11, 1963.
Even though they don’t win, third parties do
play an important role in our political system
• bring new groups into the electorate
• act as "safety valves"
• raise issues that other parties must address and often
incorporate into their own party platforms
And they can be “spoilers”
influencing election results
This is what you should have learned thru class discussions
• Party functions/ why need in lib democracy
• Our parties are weak for many reasons but with a focus on media,
primaries and campaign finance laws
• What’s the diff b/w parties
• Rising partisanship
• Parties are more distinct
• Growing Partisanship—why and ramifications
• We have a 2 party dominant system—but thirds
aren’t irrelevant
How Bill Changed the Dems
1999-2001 (election 1998) still divided: D president; R congress
2001-2003: (election 2000) R pres; R house; R senate which becomes D senate; *
(50/50 after election, but who was a tie breaker. . . So R control until Jeffords
switches to be an independent so 50 dems, 49 Rs and 1 independent)
2003-2005; (election 2002) R pres, R senate 51/48/1; R House (party govt)
2005-2007: (election 2004)R pres; R senate; R house
2007-2009 (election 2006) what happened? ___ Pres; _______ Senate; ____ House
See: http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006/

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