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AP GoPo - Political Parties (Part 3)

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Conor Thomas

on 7 November 2013

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Transcript of AP GoPo - Political Parties (Part 3)

AP GoPo - Political Parties (Part 3)
design by Dóri Sirály for Prezi
National Party Structure Today
National convention has ultimate power; meets every four years to nominate the presidential candidate
National committee is composed of delegates from states
manages affairs between conventions
Congressional campaign committees support the party’s congressional candidates
National chair manages daily work
State and Local Parties
State-Level Structure:
State central committee
County committees
Various local committees
Distribution of power varies with the state, as different incentives are at work
The Two-Party System
Rarity among nations today
Evenly balanced nationally, but not locally
Why has the two party system endured for so long?
Electoral system
plurality system limit the number of parties
Opinions of voters
two broad coalitions work, although there may be times of bitter dissent
State laws have made it very difficult for third parties to get on the ballot
Minor Parties
Ideological parties:
comprehensive, radical view;
most enduring
examples: Socialist, Communist, Libertarian
One-issue parties:
address one concern, avoid others
examples: Free Soil, Know-Nothing, Prohibition
Economic protest parties:
regional, protest economic conditions
examples: Greenback, Populist
Nominating a President
Two Contrary Forces:
party’s desire to win the presidency motivates it to seek an appealing candidate,
but its desire to keep dissidents in party forces a compromise with more extreme views
RNC moved to bureaucratic structure; a well-financed party devoted to electing its candidates, especially to Congress
Democrats moved to factionalized structure and redistributed power
RNC used computerized mailing lists to raise money
Money used to provide services to candidates – effectively, a national firm of political consultants
DNC learned from the RNC
adopted the same techniques, with some success
DNC and RNC send money to state parties
to sidestep federal spending limits (soft money)
National committee sets time and place:
issues a “call” setting the number of delegates for each state and the rules for their selection
Formulas are used to allocate delegates:
Democrats’ formula shifts delegates away from the South, to the North and West
Republicans’ formula shifts delegates away from the East, to the South and Southwest
Result: Democrats move left, Republicans right
Democrat formula rewards large states; while the Republican formula rewards loyal states
Democrats set new rules:
In 1970s (under George McGovern), rules were changed to weaken local party leaders and increase the proportions of women, youth, blacks, and Native Americans attending the convention
Hunt Commission in 1981 increased the influence of elected officials and made the convention more deliberative
Consequence of reforms: parties represent different sets of upper-middle-class voters:
Republicans represent traditional middle class—more conservative
Democrats represent new class—more liberal
To become more competitive, Democrats adopted additional rule changes:
In 1988, the number of superdelegates was increased while the status of some special interest caucuses was decreased
In 1992, three rules were set:
Winner-reward system of delegate distribution banned – this had previously given the winner of primaries and caucuses extra delegates
Proportional representation implemented
States that violated the rules were penalized with the loss of convention delegates
Conventions today only ratify choices made in primary season
Political Machines:
Definition: a party organization that recruits members via tangible incentives (money, jobs, political favors)
High degree of leadership control
Abuses were extensive
Gradually controlled by reforms – voter registration, civil service, Hatch Act (1939)
Machines continued until voter demographics and federal programs changed, decreasing the need for the parties’ resources
Machines cont'd:
Machines were both self-serving and public-regarding
New machines are a blend of the old machine (regarding campaign finance) and today’s ideological party traits (regarding issues)
Ideological Parties:
Extreme opposite to machine
Principle is more important than winning election, so ideological parties are contentious and factionalized
Usually outside Democratic and Republican parties—“third parties”
But there were some local reform clubs in 1950s and 1960s
Reform clubs have generally been replaced by more focused social movements, which advance specific demands
Ideological Parties cont'd:
Political machine was once the “farm club” of the national party, but today’s social movements perform that function
Factionalism is therefore more intense
Party leaders have less freedom
Solidary Groups:
Members are motivated by solidary incentives (companionship)
Advantage: neither corrupt nor inflexible
Disadvantage: not very hard working
Sponsored Parties:
Created or sustained by another organization
Example: Detroit Democrats were developed and led by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union
Not very common in U.S.
Personal Followings:
Requires an appealing personality, an extensive network, name recognition, and money
Examples: Kennedys (MA), Talmadges (GA), Longs (LA), Byrds (VA), Bushes (TX)
Factional parties:
from split in a major party, usually over the party’s presidential nominee
examples: Bull Moose, Henry Wallace, American Independent Party
Note that movements are not producing parties, either because . . .
There is a slim chance of success, or
The major parties accommodate the movements via direct primaries and national party convention
examples: civil rights, antiwar, and labor movements
Factional parties have had probably the greatest influence on public policy
ex. Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996
Are Delegates Representative of the Voters?
Democratic delegates much more liberal
Republican delegates much more conservative
Outcome cannot be attributed to quota rules for delegate selection alone
women, youth, minorities have greater diversity of opinions than do the delegates
Who Votes in Primaries?
Primaries now more numerous and more decisive
Adlai Stevenson (1952) and Hubert Humphrey (1968) won the presidential nomination without entering any primaries
By 1992: forty primaries and twenty caucuses (some states with both)
Yet studies find little ideological difference between primary voters and rank-and-file party voters
Caucus: meeting of party followers at which delegates are picked
Only the most dedicated partisans attend
Often choose most ideological candidate
ex. Jackson, Robertson in 1988
Who Are the New Delegates?
Today’s delegates are issue-oriented activists
Advantages of this new system:
Increased opportunities for activists within the two major parties
Decreased probability of their bolting the major parties
Disadvantage: these delegates may nominate presidential candidates unacceptable to voters or even to the party’s rank and file
Parties vs. Voters
since 1968, have won more congressional elections than presidential contests
Candidates are out of step with average voters on social and taxation issues
So are Democratic delegates to the nominating convention
there’s a connection between the delegates’ and the candidate’s positions
same problem with Goldwater (1964)
Rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans differ on many political issues
differences are usually small
Delegates from the two major parties differ widely on these same issues
So, the candidate needs to share views with the average citizen or campaign on issues where delegates and voters agree
Problem arises, though, because candidates must often play to the ideological extremes to win delegate support
produces “move to the middle” after conventions
Full transcript