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Political Parties, Voting, & Elections

Unit on Parties, Voting, and Election

Charles Powell

on 12 March 2014

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Transcript of Political Parties, Voting, & Elections

Political Parties, Voting, & Elections
Minority ignored (especially third parties)
Little change in government
Advantages / Disadvantages
Hard to tell the differences between the Parties in the United States
Basic difference: Belief in how much the government should be involved in lives of citizens

Both have moderate positions to attract voters
Party Differences
System used by United States
Two major political parties compete for power

Two Party System
There are some smaller parties, too. This allows for more than two candidates to run for president. Ross Perot ran for president in 1992 as a third-party candidate against Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican George Bush.
What are their beliefs???
Differ about role of government
Political Parties
Political Parties
Underlying tension between government allies resurfaced only two days after the coalition government forced Pervez Musharraf to resign as president by threatening to impeach him.

Mr Musharraf's departure marked the start of Pakistan's fourth period of democracy and civilian rule in its 61-year history. No civilian government has ever completed its term in office.
3 or more parties
Lots of choices

Single party majorities rare
Too many choices, too much division of voters

Coalitions--when two or more parties join together in order to make a majority in a multi-party system
coalitions control most multi-party systems
Multi-Party System
George Washington's, advice to the future:
Avoid forming political parties.
Why would he want the U.S. NOT to form political parties?
Lack of political choices
Two major choices
Can leave out ideas

Fear that parties would divide the nation
”dangers of factions” (divisions)
People only divided over parties instead of discussing issues

George Washington’s Warning:
Do not form political parties

Minority may be ignored by majority
Fears of Our System
Because the party wants to maintain control over the people, they typically do not allow any political freedom, and people who oppose them are usually “disposed of.”
Only one political party
Party and government nearly the same thing

Usually a dictatorship or communist system:
USSR, Cuba, China

Competition from other parties usually not allowed --
Opposition is silenced

Little political freedom
Oppressive to the people
Do not give people rights
One Party System
One Party system

Two Party system
American tradition

Multi-Party System
British tradition & all former British colonies
Kinds of Party Systems
Political party: A group of people with similar beliefs and ideas about government
Want to influence government by electing party candidates to office
Stability in government
Experienced leaders
Can be unstable because coalitions frequently fail and new coalitions are formed
Too many competing interests
Political Parties in America
Democratic Party
Believe federal government should be more involved in lives of the people
More government programs

Republican Party
Help the economy grow, poor people will have a better chance at finding jobs and meeting needs on their own
Less government programs

American Socialist Party
Government ownership of businesses and land, equal distribution

Libertarian Party
Strictly follow the Constitution
More power to the states
Today’s Parties
With four candidates running in the election of 1912, Democrat Woodrow Wilson only gained 42% of the popular vote. However, he won an overwhelming 82% of the electoral vote, winning him the election.
Third parties have never won a Presidential election in the US and they rarely win general elections, but they do impact decision-making by forcing the government (and the two major parties) to respond to issues.
Challenge the two major parties

3rd parties form to bring out specific issues ignored by the major parties

3rd Parties are formed in one of the following ways:

Issues based party: Arise to promote different issues
Single idea: Promote an idea (new government)
single person: Promote an individual person-- H. Ross Perot

A third party has never won the presidency and they rarely win elections
Affect the outcome of other elections
Formation of Third Parties
“I’ve been called a boss. All there is to it is having friends, doing things for people, and then later on they’ll do things for you…You can’t coerce people into doing things for you—you can’t make them vote for you. I never coerced anybody in my life. Where you see a man bulldozing anybody he don’t last long.”
~”Big Jim” Pendergrass, Kansas City “Boss”
Political Machines: Strong party organization that can control political appointments and deliver votes
Corrupt units (took bribes)
Supported by the poor
History of Our Parties
Thomas Jefferson believed political power should rest with the people and states.
The Dem.-Republicans agreed.
Alexander Hamilton did not trust the people. His political party, the Federalists, agreed with him.
The first parties:

Hamilton – did not trust people
Jefferson – give power to people

Formed just before Civil War

Democrats / Republicans
History of Our Parties
The Prohibition Party is against alcohol and other risk-causing substances. They want these substances outlawed in the United States.
Reform Party: Ross Perot

Green Party
Opposes big corporations and favors more power at local level

Want use of alcohol and other risk-causing substances to stop

Right to Life
Against abortion and the death penalty
Today’s Parties
Focuses on several elections
All members have the same goals, no matter what level they work on

Lots of funds spent at this level
National level
$2 billion spent on 2012 election
State, National Level
National Level and Committee develops party goals and nominates candidates for President

States have their own committees to try to get people elected to carry out those goals in that state

Local levels (counties, cities, wards, precincts) volunteer and work to educate voters and get them to the polls
Precincts-- Term for a district or area
Cast ballots in the same place (major focus of political parties)

Political machine– when a party so strongly controls an area that the opposing party offers little resistance
Not in practice today (other than maybe Chicago)
Conservative = LESS government involvement
Status quo (keep things the same)

Rural/suburbs, older, college educated, racial majority
Who can be a member of a party?

Declare yourself a member

What Party Members Do?
Promote party ideas
Get party candidates elected (raise money)
Register voters
Political Party
Most important level
-- Political parties really focus here
All voting takes place here
-- In precincts
Most volunteers work at this level

Elections here affect people the most
Voters care more about local politicians

Also called the “grassroots” level
Local Level
person who favors less government or a government that is
less involved in people’s lives and is less open to reforming ideas
Republican, “Right Wing”

people who are in favor of
more government involvement and may be more open to reform
Democrat, “Left Wing”

person who is somewhere
in-between the major political parties
and may have some beliefs which favor one side and other beliefs that favor the other party
“On the fence”
Political Philosophy
Every different idea (or issue) placed on the platform is called a plank. Not all party ideas (planks) make it onto the party’s national platform.
Statement of a party’s beliefs and goals
Outlines what the party wants to get accomplished
-- what the party’s policy is on a single issue

Developed at National Party Conventions
Delegates from each state write the platform and nominate the national candidates
Not representative of all party members
Just delegates
Party Platform
Tend to believe in?
Liberal = MORE government involvement in people’s lives
Want to reform (change) things they see are wrong (poverty)

Demographic features
Urban, young, religious minority, racial minority
Party goals developed at this level . . .
Developed by national committee, led by national chairperson

National Conventions-- Meeting held every four years when Presidential candidates are chosen and the party develops official policy beliefs
Non-partisan elections:
Elections that do not allow the use of political parties
---usually for positions that are seen as non-political such as school boards
and judges (states)
Party Roles Today
Parties help connect the different levels of government

-State Legislatures
-Local Governments

If all are connected they can work together better
Easier to attack mutual problems
Linking Government
Look for mistakes or misuse of power
Opposing party criticizes current party and offers solutions

Insures good government
Makes sure they do their job well

Alerts citizens to corruption
Do this with hopes of winning future elections
Watch Dogs
More involved citizens
Get people involved in politics and elections
People’s Beliefs
Political party members, on all levels, help to support candidates by raising money for campaigns (usually through dinners and rallies), helping spread ideas to new voters, and registering people to vote.

Sometimes, people who do a great deal of work for the political party and show major support will receive a job in the federal government patronage.
Selecting Candidates
Voters choose candidates they believe best support the party’s ideas

Supporting Candidates
Raise money for the campaign
Help get ideas to voters
Register people to vote

Patronage: Giving jobs to your supporters
Select and Support
Today's Political Parties
Information = Not only about their candidates, but also about the ideas they want to accomplish in their party platforms.
Informing the Public

**Keep voters aware of party goals and objectives

Help candidates get elected to office

Speeches and rallies
Create websites
Grassroots Movement: Term applied to a political idea or movement that starts with citizen organization
-Campaigning on the local level
Popular Sovereignty: Idea that people have the right to rule themselves
Political Parties keep watch over each other
Democrats point at Republicans
President points at Congress
National & State level
D- President
R- Governor
R- Senator
R- Senator
Many people have no clear definition of what party membership means.
Parties are weaker than in the past
Confusion about party beliefs
Less party loyalty --
Factions within parties
More media influences
Why should the government care about public opinion?
Why should the government also be wary of public opinion?
Public Opinion:
Generic term for
what the majority of the public may believe about an issue—
can be very misleading as a majority may represent only 51%
Opinions about government officials, candidates, and issues

Often misleading
Can manipulate questions to get the answers they want
Public Opinion
Interest Groups
Lobbying: The act of trying to influence people on behalf of an interest group
Hired by interest groups to go to Congress and influence laws
The American Association of Retired Persons is one of the most influential special interest groups in America?
Why do you think this is?
Types of Groups
Particular Groups of People

NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
Age –
AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)
Sex –
NOW (National Organization of Women)
Why is it important in researching public opinion and the ideas of interest groups to recognize bias?
Interest Groups: A group of people who have similar interests or concerns about an issue

Bias: Term that refers to a one-sided
opinion on an issue

Impartial: Having NO opinion on an issue
Interest Groups
Public Opinion Polls:
Individuals answer questions to see how the “general public” feels

Random Samples:
Poll methods where attempts are made to
include a wide segment of the population in the poll
Reflect the entire population

Effects of Polls
Make public officials respond to what the people want
Set the public agenda
Measuring Opinion
In what ways does the media shape public opinion?
How can this be both positive and negative?
Forming Opinions
Public Officials: Voters elect those they trust to public office – voice of the people

Special Interest Groups: Persuade people to their point-of-view
Because lobbying has not always been ethical, the government has passed laws to limit lobbyist’s power
(especially through bribery of Congressmen).
Government regulation
Stop bribery
Special interest groups
Reporting lobbying activities
Regulation of Lobbying
Many Factors Influence Opinions
Mass Media: TV, radio, newspapers, Internet
Provides powerful images to the public
Super PACs
Business Organizations
Professional Associations
Labor Unions
Particular Causes
ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)
Functions of Interest Groups
Represent their members
support certain candidates
Lobbyists work at all levels of government
Past activities of lobbyists have been questionable
Congressmen taking bribes, people not getting their rights
Effects of Lobbying -
Have been successful historically of influencing legislation
The Right to Vote
Presidential Candidates get government funding for their campaigns
Individuals can donate $3 on their income taxes - one general fund

Equal funding
Presidential Election Campaign fund

Party can spend extra on behalf of candidates
Can donate soft $ to political party, then party can spend it on the election
Public Funding
Using American icons to mold image

Generalized statements about to reach out to more people

Everyone else is doing it…
Using the media to campaign -
mold candidate's image
Primary method of campaigning

Negative advertising:
Process of using advertisements that focus on the faults and shortcomings of your opponent rather than your goals
Allows people to attack their opponent without giving them an immediate opportunity to respond
National convention:
Party officially announces who Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates will be
Primary Elections:
Special election held by party members to determine candidates
For major elections
See who the people will support
Nominating Process
Private funding is limited in most cases
Candidate can spend any amount of their own money --> Advantage to the rich
Individuals can donate $1,000

Groups that are formed in order to raise money for candidates running for office---
they are limited to a $5,000 donation to an individual candidate

Campaign finance reform:
Try to keep candidates from buying elections
Private Funding
Person to person campaigning
Travel through neighborhoods asking for votes and taking polls
Get information to public

”Campaign trail”:
Mapping where to travel to receive the most votes
If voters like the person endorsing the candidate, they might vote for that person
Campaigning: Candidates travel the country and try to get elected
Winning Office
Open Primary:
Primary where any voter can help chose candidates
Do not have to be a member of that political party--SC's model

Closed Primary:
Primary where only party members are allowed to vote

Closed are most often used to protect the party’s nominees
Do not want non-members to select weaker candidates
Primary Elections
Why You Should Vote?
Shows the consent of the governed and what the public wants
Opportunity to choose our leaders
Participate in government
Voice opinions about certain issues
to Vote
Be informed about the election
30 days before election
Fill out forms that ask for name, address, age, and political party
Proof of citizenship
3 Requirements:
Be 18 years old - 26th Amendment

U.S. Citizen

Resident of the community
Who can Vote?
Who Votes?
Electorate: All the people who are eligible to vote
More education, better income increases likelihood of voting
Elderly are most likely
(Power of AARP)

Youngest are least likely to vote
Why People Don’t Vote?
Some people have lost voting privileges

Some didn’t register

some moved recently
Did not re-register in time
Did not request absentee ballot

Apathy = a lack of interest
Obstacles to Voting
Believe vote does not have value or do not want to participate

Registering process
Do not register in time or know where
National Voter Registration Act – can register when renew license

Motor Voter Act

Voting times:
Many people work during times when polls open
Election Campaigns
Elections have two important parts
1. Nomination
2. Campaign
Nomination Process: Must have party’s backing to run for office (only one person from each major party)
A meeting of party leaders to name candidates
Meeting of party representatives (delegates) to name candidates
State and national levels
Political parties use caucuses and primary elections in many different states to determine who the national candidate will be
Selected by a combination of all three nominating processes
Presidential Candidates
Using a famous person to support a candidate
Working For Votes & The Money
Other Methods
Election Day
Must go to the polling place

I.D. is checked against list of registered voters
Prove you are registered to vote at that polling place
In SC . . . You MUST present Photo ID
Cast your vote
Casting Your Vote
Method of public approval for a proposed bill where the legislature temporarily passes a bill until the public is given a chance to approve or disapprove the bill
Voting on Issues
Polling Places
Straight Ticket:
Voting only for one political party

Split Ticket:
Voting for candidates from either party

Absentee Ballot
For citizens who cannot be at the polls on election day; must request them early and return by mail

Write-In Votes: Usually for third parties
Types of Votes
Elections are controlled by the local Board of Elections --> Controlled by states
(reserved power)

General Election held November--1st Tuesday after 1st Monday
All House seats, 1/3 of Senate seats, state and local leaders, President, issues
General Elections
Referendums: Voting on issues

Initiatives: Voting on issues

Number of votes disputed
Method of voting disputed

Run-Offs: Determines the winner when there is no clear majority

Recalls: Citizens can vote to remove a public official from office (Not an SC option)
Special Kinds of Elections
Polling Places

Precinct based
-- Local places where voting actually happens on Election Day

Usually in schools, town halls, public places

Open early and close late
Winning the most votes
Getting more than half of the votes

Most popular votes (plurality) wins most elections

Majority of electoral votes determine the winner of the Presidency -
270 electoral votes
Method where citizens propose a bill through a petition and place it on the ballot for a general election vote
New laws, amendments, school bonds, local issues
Constitutional Amendment
Banning Same-Sex Marriage
Asked how you voted to predict early returns (can influence voting)
You may encounter an exit poll






























21-25 Liberal responses = STRONG LIBERAL

16-20 Liberal Responses= Moderate Liberal

21-25 Conservative responses = STRONG

16-20 Conservative responses = Moderate

10-15 of either responses = Moderate
Time to make your own party
Party Name
Campaign Slogan!!!!
Full transcript