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Campaigns and Elections

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Christopher Arns

on 28 July 2015

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Transcript of Campaigns and Elections

Campaigns and Elections
Today’s political campaigns last longer and cost more than at any other time in American history

Mitt Romney had been campaigning since 2006 by the time he ran for president against Barack Obama in 2012.
The Modern Campaign
Candidates now have all kinds of new digital tools to recruit volunteers, persuade voters and slam opposing candidates. Twitter, Facebook and online database systems that track voters have all allowed candidates to expand their operations during a campaign
The Candidates
Most national political candidates are still white, Protestant, wealthy males

However, the 113th Congress is the most diverse in American history

There are more women (101), African-Americans (43), Hispanics (31), Asian-Americans (12) and openly gay or bisexual Americans (7) in Congress than ever before.
How Do Candidates Get Elected?
A person declares his/her intention to run for office and files with the county elections office. He or she is now a “candidate” for office.
California has a “
open
” primary.

Voters can vote for
any candidate
.

The top two primary finishers (regardless of party affiliation) run against each other in the general election. Two members of the same party can end up running against each other in the general election
Image is (Almost) Everything
Ever since John F. Kennedy's debate against Richard Nixon in 1960, a candidate's image has become increasingly important.
The candidates finishing in the
top two
of the primary then face off in the general election
Organizing a Campaign
Candidates have many ways to raise money for their campaigns
Candidates and advocacy groups (labor unions, corporations) can create special fundraising organizations called
political action committees
.
Allies of the candidates can also create super PACs, which can accept unlimited contributions from both individuals and organizations.

Super PACs can't give money to or work directly with election candidates
Super PACs didn’t always exist.

The 2002 McCain-Feingold Act created limits on campaign contributions and heavily regulated campaign advertising.
The Supreme Court overturned the law in Citizens United v. FEC, a 2010 case. The FEC is the Federal Election Commission
Over the past seven-eight years, another type of independent group has also become popular — the 501(c)(4) organization, sometimes called "
dark money
" groups

A 501(c)(4) organization (named for a clause in IRS tax code) doesn’t have to disclose its donors if the group doesn’t directly campaign for a candidate
Some critics have complained about these organizations and the influence they have, especially because they don't reveal their donors. These critics believe the 501(c)(4) groups should be more transparent

Supporters say that donors should be entitled to privacy. If donors revealed their identity, their safety and reputation could be attacked
Example: Mitt Romney ran against several Republicans in the 2012 primaries. He had to beat them first before running against Barack Obama in the general election
Campaign consultants help create a media strategy so the candidates appear on TV, conduct interviews and give polished statements to the press
That case led to the creation of super PACs and more money funneled into political campaigns
Candidates must first run against members of their own parties in
primaries
, which are like semifinals or playoffs to get to the general election.

Primaries can either be
open
(anyone can vote for any candidate regardless of the party) or
closed
(voters have to belong to a specific party to vote for certain candidates)
A candidate's campaign staff includes paid political consultants that tell candidates how to talk, act and how to win debates against opponents. Most campaign consultants are loyal to a specific party and always work with candidates from that party
PACs and super PACS
PACs can donate up to $5,000 to each candidate per calendar year — about twice the amount that individuals can donate to candidates, which is $2,700.

Individuals and corporations can only give $5,000 to PACs per calendar year.
Technically, these super PACs are supposed to be independent and not formally coordinated by a candidate’s campaign.

However, many of the candidate’s staff members will “quit” the campaign and then manage a super PAC that supports the candidate
The
Federal Election Commission
(FEC) is an independent agency that oversees federal elections.
The
1971 Federal Election Campaign Act
established the FEC, required public disclosure of political contributions and expenditures about certain levels, and placed limits on those contributions and expenditures.
The Supreme Court case of
Buckley v. Valeo
found that limits on independent spending were unconstitutional, which means you could spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of a candidate without coordinating with that person.
Full transcript