PSC 311: Voters, Parties & Elections
1. Parties and Politics in America (2004)
2. The Party Battle in America (2006)
3. Characteristics of the American Party System (2006)
4. Party Organizations (2008)
5. Nominations for State and Congressional Offices
6. Presidential Nominating Politics (2014 & 2004)
7. The General Election: Regulation and Campaign Strategy
8. Political Parties and the Voters
9. Parties in the Government (2004)
10. A Concluding Note: American Parties-Distinctive, Durable, Adaptive, and Useful
1. Parties and Politics in America-Whether a political system works depends upon whether society's political conflicts among competing interests can be solved and managed via bargaining and compromises.
Negin Ahmadi, 2004
- America was the first nation to transfer executive power from one faction to another via the election of 1800.
- For a government to operate in an effective way they require a division of labor, leadership, and must be organized.
- Constitutional separation of powers was intended by Founders to encourage tension between the Congress and president so that neither would become too powerful and threaten individual liberties.
- However, modern government requires legislative executive coordination if societal need and international obligations are to be met.
- Political power in the U.S is divided among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches and among national, state, and local governments.
- Parties face competition from organized groups in terms of funding.
- Parties are often by law forbidden from funding. Election costs are constantly rising.
- Interest groups, through political action committees (PACs), have come to play a larger role in funding candidates.
- Since 1976, presidential campaigns have been funded primarily with taxpayer money.
- Many states have public funding programs designed to limit the role of the parties and PACs in election.
- The mass media (especially TV), are also competitors with the parties for political influence.
- Interest groups engage in many of the same activities as political parties: they seek to influence nomination, elect favored candidates, influence the appointment of officials to the executive branch, and influence governmental decisions.
- Parties have broader issue concerns compared to interest groups.. Parties tae stands on the whole spectrum of issues with which government deals- foreign, fiscal, welfare, education, transportation, helath, racial, environment, energy, science,
and social policy.
- Government succession through changes in party control is only possible when the notion of loyal opposition is accepted.
- Loyal opposition involves opposing and criticizing the policies of the standing government (those currently in office) and standing ready to take its place.
- Acceptance of a loyal opposition party requires that those in power and their supporters recognize that oppose the policies of the government is not treason and advocacy of revolution.
- It was in 1840s that the idea of loyal party opposition was accepted by Americans.
2. The Party Battle in America.-Political parties have never been overwhelmingly popular. While parties now command substantial participants, the public still retains a feeling of suspicion.
By Jonathan Lyons, Fall 2006
-American parties began with the policy conflict between Hamilton and Jefferson during the Washington administration. Hamilton’s Federalists opposed Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans in the First Party System. Historians agree that in the election of 1800, the aggressive organization of the Democratic-Republicans behind Jefferson contributed to his election over John Adams.
-The second party system involved Andrew Jackson running for re-election and winning in 1832 under the Democratic label. By 1834 opposition to Jackson coalesced to form the Whigs.-During the next 15 years voter participation expanded and the two parties engaged in intense competition to reach the expanding electorate. Campaigning that included rallies, picnics, songs, and slogans attempted to create a partisan atmosphere.-Racial and slavery issues brought about a national divide between Northern and Southern factions that neither party could satisfy. Abolitionist sentiment raging against the institution of slavery brought about the Third Party System. The transition period toward two-party competition took place between 1854-1860.-The Democrats were dominated by southerners who wished to maintain slavery and keep free and slave states balanced by carefully monitoring which states were admitted. The Republicans, though unsuccessful early on, gained strength by aligning with farmers through the Homestead Act and free land in the west.-The period following the civil war saw great growth in urban populations, corporations, and the economy in general. These economic and social revolutions led to radical agrarian movements that opposed the growth of corporations and led to third-party movements such as the People’s party (populist).
-Republicans also fought for veterans’ pensions and appealed to entrepreneurs through federal land grants. Moves such as these saw the development of patronage-based party organizations that were effective in mobilizing party votes.
-The election of 1896 saw William Jennings Bryan of the Democrats oppose Republican William McKinley. In this election both political parties used platforms that responded to third-party competition. (Populists wanted unlimited coinage of silver and gold, Democrats put this on the platform)
Post New Deal Era
During the mid to late 60’s:-Partisanship declined and voters started identifying as independents
-Black voter participation increased and African Americans became affiliated with the Democratic party, resulting in Democrat candidates endorsing civil rights legislation
-Support for Democrats declined among blue-collar workers and Catholics, traditional support groups
-These actions led to a candidate-centered party system in which neither the Republicans nor Democrats were a true majority, voters were guided by candidate appeal. Other indicators of weakening party ties included unusually strong third party candidates and independents (George Wallace winning 13.5% of the vote, Ross Perot)
-Split tickets are now commonplace, and parties now mainly provide services and money to the candidateMinor Parties-American Party (Know Nothing) An anti-immigrant and anti-catholic party achieved electoral success at state levels in 1854
-People’s Party (Populist) Called for 8-hour workdays, free coinage of silver, and government ownership of railroads. Captured control of the Democratic National Convention in 1896 and nominated William Jennings Bryan.
-Nader’s Green Party Environmentally focused candidate who was an advocate of expanded social programs in the 2000 election, he possibly took enough votes from Al Gore (2.7% of popular vote) to sway the election
Ross Perot The texas billionaire who used his fortune to capture 18.9% of the popular vote by running his campaign around the dangers of a huge federal budget deficit.
-Third party candidates usually do not take many votes but often force the issues they are concerned with into the limelight (The populist’s free coinage of silver adopted by William Jennings Bryan)
3. Characteristics of the American Party System.
By Kathern Wendt, Fall 2006
Two-Party Competition with Variationso Party Competition at the National LevelThe Presidency
The Congresso Party Competition at the State LevelVoting Strength
Social and Economic Conditionso Variations in Levels for Competition for Different OfficesStatewide Elections
State Legislative Elections
Decentralized Power Structureso The Impact of the ConstitutionSeparation of Powers
Federalismo The Impact of Nomination and Campaign PracticesNominations in States
General Election Campaignso Some Countertrends: Nationalizing InfluencesImpact of National Trends of State Voting Patterns
Expanded Role of the National Party
The Growth of the “Presidential Party
Broadly Based Electoral Supporto Social Class in Relation to Voting PatternsNonprogrammatic Parties
o Diversity within both American Political Partieso Interest of Parties in PolicyQuasi-Public Institutions with Ambiguous Membership
o Indecisiveness of both American Political Partieso Western European Parties verses United States PartiesWeak Parties, but Substantial Partisan Influence
o The Inability of Parties to run Internal Affairs as They See Fito Features of the American Party System
o Influence of the American Political Parties
4. Party Organizations
by Maegan McCollum, Fall 2008
* The type of organization operating in any political jurisdiction depends on 6 factors:1. The level of government involved* American political party organizations are cadre parties — a small number of leaders and activists who maintain the organization, recruit candidates, seek to influence nominations, and campaign for the party’s nominees.
2. The type of governmental regulations under which it must operate
3. The extent of interparty competition that exists
4. The clientele or bases of party support
5. Regional and local traditions
6. The nature of the electorate* Cadre type party structure is based on the set of interlocking national party rules, state and federal statutes, and state and local party rules.* The layered organizational structure of American parties is called Stratarchy, an organization with layers of control rather than centralized leadership from the top down.
* Party organization is built around geographic election districts.* Eldersveld notes that “a special component of stratarchy is reciprocal deference—between the layers of organization “there is a tolerance of autonomy, of each layer’s status and its right to initiative, as well as tolerance of inertia.”* After the BCRA (Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, 2002), national parties raised more hard money, transfers to state parties declined, state parties did not advertise, and parties continued to make strategic transfers. [McCain-Feingold Act]
* The party organization is a network that extends beyond the regular and legally constituted party structure to include candidate organizations, party-allied groups, and campaign consultants.
* National Committees began in the mid-1800s and gradually became more institutionalized. Since 1950, the size of the DNC staff has never dipped below 40 people, and the RNC has exceeded eighty.
* Only the national committee represents the 50 states plus ex officio rep. for important elected officials and organized interests. They meet only twice a year.
* In 1974 the DNC abandoned the principle of state equality in favor for representation that took into account population of the state and its record of support for Democratic candidates. The DNC also has active caucuses for minorities and women.The RNC has not changed from state equality and a confederate party system.* Repub. & Demo. Rules require that the National Chair serve on a full-time basis, preventing senators and representatives from becoming chairs. Two roles of national chairs—party spokesperson and organizational leaders.*Out-party chairs have more flexibility and independent influence on their party. In-party chairs do not, because they serve at the pleasure of the president and operatives in the White House.* Because of regulations, campaign committees (for the House and Senate by the parties) can only give a small amount directly to the candidates. They spend money on coordinated expenditures, which are in support of their candidates, and consist of polls and commercials, etc. They also encourage acceptance of PAC money.* Most states regulate party membership, organizational structure, access to the general election ballot, methods of nomination, and campaign finance—there is variation between the states however.* Because of size and infrequent meetings, many state parties rely on an executive committee to carry out state committee functions between meetings.* State parties evolved—capable of helping candidates and local parties—by establishing a permanent headquarters, gaining professional leadership and staffing, obtaining adequate budgets, and forming programs to maintain the organization, support candidates and officeholders, and assist local party units.
* Most state chairs are elected by the state committee, some are chosen by state party conventions. The governor’s role in party affairs is mostly advisory rather than controlling. The governor and state chair consult on appointments, candidate recruitments, fund-raising, and other major party activities.* Repubs. Tend to have more professional and better-financed state organizations than Democrats. And the south has the strongest state party organizations.
* State legislative campaign committees are modeled like national congressional and senatorial campaign committees (composed of incumbent legislators who raise funds and hire staff to assist their parties’ legislative candidates).
* Urban machines have mostly faded because of the Australian (secret) Ballot, the party primary, and civil service reform.
* Most county parties are not bureaucratic or heirachically run organizations; their workers are part-time volunteers—have no permanent headquarters or paid staff, activity is concentrated around campaign season.
* A strong party organization can provide the infrastructure candidates and activists to continue the battle in the face of short-term defeats and enduring minority statues and to take advantage of favorable circumstances when they arise.
* Party activists participate because of patronage and preferments, chance of running for elective office, the social benefits, and because of issues and ideology.
* Increasing involvement and influence of issue-oriented activists within the parties has caused conflicts between office holders and party organizations.
5. Nominations for State and Congressional Offices
6. Presidential Nominating Politics
Week 5: Discussion notes by M. Blair Casebere, Fall 2014
Distinguish primaries from caucuses:In caucuses, those attending consist of party members and activist who have enough knowledge to choose delegates, they are a smaller portion of the electorate. Because the caucus system is an internal party process, it places a premium on a candidate having dedicated supporters—the type of people who will spend weekends taking part in lengthy party meetings. It is essential that a presidential candidate’s organization have intimate knowledge of the state laws and party rules for delegate selection and of intraparty politics. The caucus/convention process an intraparty affair that requires an efficient organization, whereas presidential primaries are more media-oriented in order to appeal to a mass electorate. Primaries Broadcast; Caucuses/conventions Narrowcast. The primaries also have a participatory nature, giving it widespread appeal.PrimariesAre media-oriented.Why did candidate Obama in 2008 take a caucus strategy?
Caucuses are smaller, they are more based around party activist, while Primaries are bigger, are in bigger states, and are more based on finding a candidate who is already well-recognized to run for the party; thus, it is more likely for a candidate to become known by their strategic recognition through the primaries, at least before Obama.Because he didn’t have the money or the name-recognition to win it big in the Primaries.
Why did his campaign abandon public funding?
Because he was taking in so many $20 private funds, that he needn’t have public funding and obtaining or accepting it would have hindered his campaign because it would limit the amount of funds he could take in.
Schaffner 6: notes by M. Blair Casebere, Fall 2014Nomination Politics was once party-centered, as in the case of President Humphrey in 1968.
However, in todays case, the nomination process is Candidate-centered, primary-focused, participatory, and media-intensive.
Methods of Delegate SelectionThe national nominating conventions held in the summer of presidential election years are the culmination (highest climatic point) of a long season of campaigning to select national convention delegates.Delegate selection methods:
Thus, the processes of delegate selection are critical to the outcomes of the convention.• The Presidential Primary – used by Republicans & DemocratsState Delegate Selection Procedures Must Conform to National Party Rules
• The Party caucus/Convention process – Republicans & Dem.o Involves a relatively small proportion of the voters• Automatic selection by virtue of the party or by the Elected position the candidate holds – ONLY Democrats
o Consist of party members and activist who normally have the interest, motivation, and knowledge to participate in the party meetings and state party meetings to choose delegates.
The various states are free to devise their own delegate selection methods as long as those methods conform the National Party Rules (the rules of the national Reb. and Dem.ic parties).
Because each state legislature and/or state party organization is involved in devising the delegate selection processes, practices followed within the state vary widely.-Although the states have some latitude in determining how their delegates to national convention will be chosen, the procedures they devise must be in strict conformity with national party rules.Presidential Primaries
The national party rules take precedence over the guidelines set forth by state statutes and state party rules in matters of delegate selection.
A state delegating that is not chosen in the conformity with the national party rules runs the risk of not having its delegation seated at the national convention—a severe sanction that the national party can impose.
The most celebrated instance of conflict between a state party and its national organization over the delegate selection procedures took place in Wisconsin.
After 1974, the Dem national party rules forbade selecting delegates through open primary procedures, and thus Wisconsin’s law was out of conformity with national party rules.
While the Dem National Committee agreed to permit states with open primary traditions (Wisconsin and Montana) to use open presidential primaries in 1986 to put this bitter controversy behind them and prepare for the 1988 elections, the Dem National Committee (DNC) continued to assert its power to regulate delegate selection procedures.The largest share of convention delegates is chosen through procedures that involve presidential primaries.State Party Caucuses and Conventions
The presidential primaries determine the allocation of over 2/3 of the delegates selected to either (party?) convention.
However, the number of primaries held in any presidential election year has been subjected to considerable variations depending on political conditions(, such as financial shortfalls, or a republican delegate being unopposed like George W. Bush).
Most presidential primaries are funded and operated by the state governments.
“With the largest share of the delegates selected through procedures that involve presidential primaries, it has become imperative for presidential candidates to enter virtually all of the primaries in order to win sufficient delegates to gain a convention majority.” –President Obama proved this wrong
Primaries are an indicator of a candidate’s ability to win the election, and thus are particularly important because of the image they can convey of a candidate’s popularity, electability, and momentum.
-The mechanics of the presidential primaries vary from state to state depending upon applicable state laws and party rules.
There is normally a contest for delegates in each congressional district and an additional contest to determine how the delegates who will represent the state at large will be allocated among the presidential candidates.
Therefore, a presidential candidate can lose the statewide vote, and still pick up delegates by making a strong showing in the primaries of congressional districts within a state.
Depending upon state laws and party rules, the states also vary in terms of which voters are allowed to participate in the primaries by determining if the primaries are closed (only registered Dem can vote in the primary), simi-open (only those registered as Dem or independents can vote in the primary), or open (any registered voter can vote in the primary).Closed—National Democratic Rules & NR Rules
Simi-open –National Democratic Rules & NR Rules
Open –Only National Repub RulesUntil the 1972 convention, a majority of the states used state party caucuses and conventions to select delegates.Combination Presidential Primary and Caucus Systems
In caucus/convention states, the delegation selection process of delegate selection involves a progression of party meetings starting at the local level (local caucuses), running through the congressional district (congressional district caucuses), and culminating in a party convention.
At congressional district caucuses, representatives chosen by the various local caucuses meet up to:• Register their preference for the party’s presidential nomineeThe national convention delegates selected to represent the congressional district at the national convention are chosen to reflect what extent that presidential candidates have support among the congressional district caucus participants.
• Elect delegates to the national convention to represent the congressional district
• Elect delegates to the state party convention.
Delegates from the various congressional districts in a state then meet in a state party convention to elect national convention delegates to represent the state at large
Because the caucus system is an internal party process, it places a premium on a candidate having dedicated supporters—the type of people who will spend weekends taking part in lengthy party meetings.
Whereas presidential primaries are media-oriented (broadcast) in order to appeal to a mass electorate, the caucus/convention process is more of an intraparty affair that requires an efficient organization.Some states use a combination of the presidential primary and party caucus to choose their national convention delegate.Automatic Unpledged Delegates
Occasionally, states hold presidential primaries that are purely popularity contest that have no binding effect on the delegate selection, because in these cases the delegates are actually chosen in the party caucuses and conventions-The Democrats are the only party that allows Automatic Delegates.Phases of the Nomination Process
In an effort to increase convention participation by party leaders and elected officials, the Democrats (for their 1984 convention) made provisions in their national rules for granting automatic delegates status to major party leaders and elected officials.
Republican Party leaders and elected officials must go through the regular primary and caucus procedures in order to become delegates.Today the nomination process is a lengthy, time and money consuming task, often taking up to four years.The Ongoing Process of Party Reform
There are 4 main phases to the Nomination Process
• Phase 1: Laying the Groundwork…: The “Invisible Primary”o During the period following a presidential elections, prospective candidates begin the planning and preparations for their campaigns.• Phase 2: Delegate Selection: The Early Contests…
o The pace of presidential campaigns intensifies during the year of the midterm elections, as candidates seek to play a prominent role in assisting their parties in congressional, senatorial, and state elections.
o Much like machines, the strategy is to create a sense of obligation among officeholders that can be later converted into commitment of support for presidential nomination.
o During the year preceding the presidential election, the pace of campaigning accelerates.
o A year before the presidential primaries it is essential for a candidate to rais some serious money for their nomination campaign.o The early contests for delegates are important, not only because of the number of delegates at stake but also because of the benefits that are attached to doing well in these events.• Phase 3: Delegate Selection: The Later Primaries and Caucuses
o Those who falter in the early contests find that their poll ratings, and support from prominent leaders all diminish, and many have to drop out.
o This phase is the “media fishbowl” phase
o What matters most in the early contests is how the results of the primaries are interpreted.
o The concentration of primaries and caucuses resulting from front-loading means that candidates must be equipped to in quick succession in a series of multistate primaries across the country after the New Hampshire primary.
o Instead of predicting the winner of a nomination, the New Hampshire primary, as well as other early primaries, has played a role in winnowing the number of candidates in the race; those who do poorly drop out for lack of support.o This stage in the nominating process can have crucial and long-term implications for the outcome of the general election.• Phase 4: The Convention: Ratifying the Decision of the Primaries and Kicking Off the General Election Campaign
o Lengthy, controversial, angry and bitter primary campaigns cost the eventual nominee valuable time and money needed for intraparty peace-making, media advertising.o National Conventions are no longer deliberate bodies whose delegates weigh the competing claims of rival candidates for the nomination.
o (In other words,) the convention has become largely just a formality after a hard fought battle with the primaries and caucuses.
o Even through the actual nomination may have been decided well in advance of the convention, what happens at the convention and how it is presented in the news media can have implications for the campaign.The immediate causes of the latest surge of nomination reforms were the divisive 1968 and 1972 Democratic conventions and the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. These attempts, plus attempts to remedy problems in the nominating process that were perceived to have contributed to the Democrats losing five to six presidential election between 1968 and 1988, created a powerful impetus for an ongoing process of reform within the Democratic Party.The Reformed DemocratsThe 1968 Democratic Convention was widely seen as having been unrepresentative of the Democratic voters
In 1972, party regulars readily agreed to the demands for a commission to overhaul Democratic rules of delegate selection.
This commission was known as the McGovern-Fraser Commission; it proceeded to propose a series of major changes in the Democrats’ nomination process that were put into effect in 1972.
Among the most salient features of these reformed rules enforced by the DNC are:
• Openness:o State primaries must have written rules of delegate selection, give public notice of all meetings, and have uniform statewide times and dates for meetings.• Proportional Representation:o Delegates must be chosen through presidential primaries, and party caucuses must be allocated among the candidates based upon their share of the vote• Ban on Open Primaries:
o A minimum threshold 15% of the vote in a primary or caucus is required before a candidate can be awarded delegates.
o All types of winner-takes-all primaries are banned.o Open presidential primaries are banned, with special exemptions granted to Wisconsin and Montana b/c of their open primary tradition.• Automatic (Super) Delegates:o Automatic/uncommitted delegate status is granted to the president and vice president; members of the House and Senate; members of the Democratic National Committee; Democratic governors; and former presidents, speakers, of the House, Senate majority leaders, and former DNC chairs.• Affirmative Action:o State parties are required to encourage participation and representation of minorities and traditionally underrepresented groups.• Equal Division:o State delegations must be composed of an equal number of men and women.• 3/4ths of a state’s delegate must be selected through either primaries or caucuses at the congressional district level:o In other words, A state’s delegates cannot all be selected on the basis of a statewide primary.These changes have transformed the nomination process most significantly by reducing the ability of party leaders to influence or control the delegate selection process.
These changes have put party officeholders at “an active disadvantage.” Aka, “the guaranteed role of the regular party has been discarded.”
These changes also encouraged the proliferation of presidential primaries. Aka they made –the nomination process highly participatory, candidate-centered and media-oriented.
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6. Presidential Nominating Politics (older edition)
Al Zachos, 2004
-Bibby begins by stating that since 1968 there have been fundamental changes in nominating politics.
It was once a process dominated by powerful party leaders, and now it is predominantly candidate oriented
-Now with the expansion of national television, the media has a far reaching influence on who will win the nomination.
-National nominating conventions are held in the summer of election years, and they are the final product of a long campaigning season.
There are 3 principle methods of candidate selection
1. The presidential primary
2. The party/caucus convention process
3. Automatic selection by virtue of the party or by an elected position that the
-The individual states decide how their delegates will be selected; however, state delegate selection must conform to National Party Rules.
-The largest share of convention delegates is chosen through procedures that involve presidential primaries.
-State Party Caucuses and Conventions
Until 1972, a majority of the states used the caucus system. The difference between a primary and a caucus, is that in a primary the candidates are chosen by a popular vote, and in the caucus system, only party leaders and activists participate in the elections.
In the caucus system, candidates are chosen by party leaders w/ series of meetings.
Today the nomination process is a lengthy, time and money consuming task.
There are 4 main phases-Phase 1- Laying the Groundwork "The invisible primary", During the midterm elections, the nomination process accelerates into a higher gear. It is at this point that candidates must start focusing heavily on fund raising and Television spots. ["Money primary" -- JRTL]Campaign Finance
-Phase 2- Delegate selection and the effects of Front Loading, The early stages of the primary are important for candidates to gain popularity and recognition, by being the front runner. The Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary are usually the first two delegate contests, and in nomination folklore, they are pivotal in gaining momentum for the long race. ["Winnowing phase"]
-Phase 3- Delegate selection, the later contests, The rest of the primaries after the first few are not as important, but a late surge is possible ["Consolidation phase" -- JRTL]
-Phase 4- The Convention, the convention has become largely just a formality after a hard fought battle with the primaries and caucuses. ["ratification or coronation phase" -- JRTL]
-The Watergate scandal brought to light many campaign finance irregularities in 1972.
Thus, in 1974, there was the Federal Election Campaign Act or FECA.- It said that a candidate must raise at least $250 from 20 states, up to $5,000. They must abide by an overall expenditure limit at the national level which in 2000 was $33.8 million. They must also abide by state expenditure limits based on a formula of $.16 cents per voter.With these serious limitations placed, the campaign process and fundraising has become much longer. Because of the restrictions at the state and national level, the campaign has become very centralized and led to highly publicly funded campaigns.
-Only individual donations of up to $ 1,000 can be accepted.
There is an extreme advantage for well known candidates, because their recognition means that they need less media spots, and can focus funds on other aspects of their campaign.
Participation in Primaries-Participation in the general election is always greater than the participation in the primaries. Although since the primary system has become popular, there has been an increased number of people participating, culminating in 2000 at an all time high of 31.2 million people.Comparing the American system to that of the British one
- Bibby explains that the media has an ever increasing role in the nomination process, for the simple fact that they must make decisions about which candidates to give more time and attention to.
In Britain,1. Party leaders entered politics at an early age and served many years before becoming a leader. [Till 1997 -- now leaders younger, better looking on TV. -- JRTL]In the United States
2. Party leaders served in many different national offices
3.The leaders were voted on by their fellow politicians only. [Annual elections, 1965-. Electoral colleges across party, 1990s. -- JRTL]
4. The campaigns are short, with little wear and tear on the candidates.
5. The cost of the campaigns is low. [But growing in last decade, contribution scandals in parties. -- JRTL]
6. The process of selecting leaders was entirely done by the party1. Candidates sometimes have never served in a national office.-The post 1968 reforms have served to widen the differences between the British and American systems.
2. Candidates are voted on by voters in primaries in the majority of cases.
3. The nominating campaigns are very long and cause enormous wear and tear on the candidates.
4. The cost of campaigns is the highest in the world.
5. The process is definitely not exclusively a party affair.
Every 4 years the debate about nomination systems causes controversy It is important that the system continue to be critically evaluated, because the type of nomination system often determines the type of candidate that will succeed. [Political environment ensures survival of fittest -- within that environment. -- JRTL]
7. The General Election: Regulation and Campaign Strategy
8. Political Parties and the Voters
9. Parties in the Government
by Kevin Akins, 2004
Republicans and Democrats have dominated America’s 2 party system, on both national and state levels. One consistent pattern is partisanship in American politics.
Presidents effect national appointees, just as Governors effect state-level appointees; they do not, however, have a final say in who gets each position.
A favor is obviously shown within the leader’s party, but this is not always consistent. A leader may reach out to the other party by nominating and appointing opposing parties into positions. This is Bibby’s “separation of party governments.” Neither the President nor Congress has distinct power over the other or appointees in general.
President as Party Leader
The President must assert dominance over the party and its organization. He doesn’t have an official role in the party, but his influence is always followed in such things as selecting the party chair, setting policy, etc. As of recent Presidencies, a direct link is seen between the party’s national chairman & the President’s preference.
In return, the party acts as a tool for fundraising, setting a platform, recruiting candidates, registering voters, and often advertising. They also work under White House aides to help with the President’s political interests. In the past, the National Parties had a larger role: chairmen would serve as re-election campaign managers, and even handle such jobs as postmaster, spokesman, etc. This is changing, as the Federal Election Campaign Act encourages the separation of national party and campaign team. Campaigns can now better fundraise via soft money/smaller donations, rather than taking the party allotted salary alone.
Party, President, and Congress
President shares powers with Congress- even international relations & national security. Neither President nor his Congress feels that they got in their place because of the clout of the other position. Even “presidential coattails” are dwindling.
The Presidency is hierarchal and can deter from a comprehensive, consistent character; Congress is more decentralized, with committees and sub-committees, which yield a narrower, more thorough interest. This also reflects visibility and accountability to voters, as the President is held more accountable than congressmen on issues and in reelection campaigns.
On legislation, party affiliation matters more than anything. Even if a congressman supports a specific item, he may change his mind, depending on if his party controls the White House. Also, Congressmen sometimes shift as a party: i.e. Clinton needing Republican support for NAFTA. Also, Congressional-Presidential relations tend to work more cooperatively, regardless of party, when a national crisis occurs.
Party, President, and Executive Branch
Pres. must focus on his cabinet and agencies, b/c policy initiatives are developed and implemented at this level. In modern days, some say managing this branch is the most difficult, due to overlapping governmental concerns (agency to agency or federal to state). It is hard for this body to have one voice, as it becomes less centralized. To control this, many Presidents appoint fellow partisans to policy-making positions; this doesn’t assure faithfulness in ideology, however.
Party, President, and Judiciary
President indirectly affects the Judiciary, mainly by appointing Federal Judges (90% of nominees usually from Pres. Party). Presidents and Congress share power on appointments of federal district and court of appeals appointments. Supreme Court Justices are at the President’s discretion, and then are brought before the Senate for full approval (likely case in Bush’s 2nd term).
Parties in Congress
Congressmen more likely to change from the President’s party to opposing party, b/c there is no risk of losing the Executive power. Partisanship is questioned, but still apparent by a narrow margin of Congressional control change in each election, esp. since 1994.
Within Congress, it’s organized by partisan matters and very formal. The majority party decides what bills get introduced, control the proceedings, etc. Roll Call votes further prove party loyalty.
American government is heavily influenced by the two parties, but not dominated by them. The looseness of the Party System provides independence and flexibility in policymaking and day-to-day proceedings.
10. A Concluding Note: American Parties-Distinctive, Durable, Adaptive, and Useful