PSC 311: Voters, Parties & Elections
Ch.4, Hershey, Birkhead, and Easter, “Party Activists, Ideological Extremism, and Party Polarization”
Ch. 6: Paul S. Herrnson, “National Parties in the 21st Century“
Ch.7, Norrander, "Parties and the Presidential Nominating Contests"
Ch.8, Dwyre, "Political Parties and Campaign Finance"
Ch. 12, G. Calvin Mackenzie, "Partisan Presidential Leadership: The President’s Appointees"
Ch. 13: Alan I. Abramowitz, “American Political Parties in an Age of Polarization”
Most Americans usually only participate politically by voting, which conveys very little information to the government.• The public “does not express its policy preferences with precision. The voice of the people may be loud, but the enunciation is indistinct” –V.O Key Jr.
However, some public voices are both loud and clear.o The voice of political activist (people who take active part in election campaigns, party events, political discussion, and who contribute to political groups).• Political parties could not survive without these activist.
• Yet in recent decades, activists have been blamed for causing political polarization (the process of greater partisan and ideological division, and the bitter debate and gridlock that have accompanied it.)
• This increase in polarization has had profound effects, ranging from more combative election campaigns and frequent congressional paralysis to higher voter turnout, as well as to increased party leadership power in Congress.
• Activist may cause political polarization between office holders because office holders: yearn for their resources; come in contact with them more often; and because they make up most of the participation in nominations, and during low voter turnout, activists make up most of the voter population.
• However, sources of evidence saying that like-minded activists are the cause of political polarization are week, and one must know what makes up the profile of what kind of political activist.o The profiles of political activist are similar in many ways, but hold important differences between each other.• Treating all forms of political activism as interchangeable hide interesting and potentially important differences, because 1 type of political activism differs from all others.? Blacks & women are less likely to contribute money to candidates and other political groups than whites & men
? Women are significantly less likely than men to try to persuade others of how they should vote and to attend political rallies.o People who wear political buttons or display a political sign is one of the most common types of activism whose participants break the pattern that political activists are more educated and have higher incomes than inactive citizens• People who are politically active cluster into 2 types of participationo Giving money• People who engage in either type of participation are more likely to see themselves as extreme, in an ideological sense, than those who participate less
o Giving time
• Ultimately, the government can more successfully predict activism on the basis of respondents’ general ideological self-description and social-demographic characteristics than on the basis of their attitudes toward specific.
• There is some support that political activist are more extreme in their views, but such support comes from surveys of the national convention delegates, a population that might not be highly repetitive of the population of political activist.
• In all actuality the relationship between activism and extremism is not as consistent as it is often portrayed.
• To learn more about activists’ roles in political polarization, the government needs to develop clearer expectations as to how activists’ attitudes and behavior affect elected officials.
• It might be that activists aren’t the main culprits after all, but that candidates and elected officials have led the polarization process and try to attract like-minded activists.
• Or we may just be seeing different patterns of extremism, and the relationship between activists and candidates.
National parties in the U.S have adapted to the candidate-centered, money-driven, “higher-tech” style of contemporary campaign politics.
According to Herrnson, national parties can best be understood as enduring multilayered coalitions.
• American political parties are principally electoral institutions.
• DNC = 1848. Purpose: of organizing and directing the presidential campaign and tending to the details associated with planning future conventions.
• RNC = 1856. Purpose: to formally bring Reb. Party into existence and conduct elections-related activities like organizing and directing the presidential campaign and tending to the details associated with planning future conventions
• The congressional and senatorial campaign committees were created in response to heightened electoral insecurities resulting from major political upheavals.o The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)-1866 and later, the National Democratic Congressional Committee (NDCC) were created.• The Dem. Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the RSCC were created in 1916 to help incumbent senators campaign after the Seventeenth Amendment transformed the Senate into a popularly elected body.
• The 6 national party organizations have not possessed abundant power during most of their existence.
• The national, congressional, and senatorial campaign committees had little, if any, power over state and local party leaders
• Ultimately, American political partieso are principally electoral institutions,• The institutionalization of the national parties has made them
o and developed in response to changes in their environment and the changing needs of their candidates.o stronger,• The development of institutionalization of the national parties has enabled the national parties to play important roles in contemporary elections.
o more stable,
o more influential in their relations with? state and local party committees,
? political consultants, and
? interest groupso Make campaign contributions and coordinate expenditures• Party Allies
o Provide services in areas of campaigning requiring? Connecting with other individuals and groups who possess some resources (look at Brewer ch.4) needed to conduct a viable campaign.o Carry out independent pendent media campaigns to improve the prospects of candidates in competitive races and coordinated grassroots campaigns designed to turn out voters in support of party candidates for all levels of offices.
? Technical expertise
? In-depth research
o Influence the decision making of others in their coalitions.? Coalitions: party members
• Political Consultants
• Voters who make party’s electoral base
• Voters that lean toward a party or its candidate
• The national parties have emerged as the central players in enduring multilayered coalitions that structure politics.
- The presidential nomination calendar extends from Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, typically in February, to several clusters of states on Super Tuesdays in March, and finally, to a few states holding out with traditional primary dates in the first weeks of June.Timeliness of Convention Delegate Selection- The disjuncture between traditional delegate selection procedures and the new call for delegates committed to particular presidential candidates boiled over at the 1968 Democratic convention. In1968, 24 states began some part of the delegate selection process before the election year. The 1970s Democratic Party reforms had unintended consequences. One was the proliferation of presidential primaries. The other was that increasingly these presidential primaries were being clustered at the start of the primary calendar.National Party Attempts to Control the Nomination Calendar-The national parties have created windows of allowable dates for delegate selection. The Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary typically fall outside the party’s window of allowable primary dates. The two parties have adopted a carrot-and-stick approach. As a carrot, the two parties have offered additional delegates to states that hold later primaries. The stick approach involves reduction of the number of delegates for states that schedule their primaries before the allowable window.State Parties and State Legislatures and the Presidential Nomination Calendar-Most of the focus on state parties and state legislatures is how their actions have contributed to front-loading. Voters in the early primary states also receive more attention from the candidates. Early primary states accrue economic benefits. States can have a variety of reasons for moving the date of their presidential primaries backward on the nomination calendar. Most of the states’ activities in selecting primary dates are uncoordinated.The Influence of Candidates and Their Supporters- Some states adopted primaries or advanced the date of their primaries to help out home-state candidates. Sometimes supporters of rival candidates confront each other in trying to manipulate a state’s primary date. Presidents have the most influence over nomination rules.The Moving Parts of the Presidential Nomination Calendar: 1968-2008-The presidential nomination calendar has been influenced by the actions of the national parties, state parties, and legislatures, and candidates and their supporters. As a result, the nomination calendar has a new look with each passing election cycle. The past three decades have seen states jockeying for prime positions on the presidential nomination calendar. The calendar also is biased toward some states, while other states hold primaries that occur after the nomination race is essentially over.
- The role of parties in campaign finance has changed dramatically since the rise of national party organization in the early 1800s. The Progressive reformers of the early 1900s fundamentally changed the electoral landscape in which the parties operate.
Early American Parties- By 1848, the Democrats had created a central committee. The Republican committee was well financed for its first real campaign in 1856. As the nation left the Civil War behind and entered an era of rapid industrialization and massive immigration, the parties became highly sectional. By the mid-1890s, the parties were on opposite sides of important national issues in the midst of an economic downturn. The late 19th century saw the rise of both Democratic and Republican urban political party machines.Throwing out the Parties along with the Bosses-The progressives emerged at the turn of the century and sought to root out what they saw as excessive political expediency and increasingly sordid partisan manipulation of democratic politics. To break the party machine’s power, the Progressives enacted measures that attacked and ultimately destroyed several of the links between parties and voters. Other reforms, such as voter registration requirements, worked to exclude the masses from politics. The introduction of the primary election was the Progressive reform that most weakened the power and influence of political parties.The New Deal and Some Party Resurgence- The election of Franklin Roosevelt reenergized the Democratic Party and motivated the GOP to mobilize in response. Labor Unions were highly motivated to support the Democrats. After WWII, the labor unions and urban party machines that supported the New Deal Democratic Party resurgence lost influence.Big Money, Candidate-Centered Campaigning, and the Road to Reform-Parties remained central to the campaign process into the 1960s. Soon, however the parties’ influence would be challenged by other developments. Candidates themselves also begin to hire independent, nonparty consultants to do polling, craft political messages, mobilize voters, and raise money for their campaigns. The move to candidate-centered campaigns also meant a move to candidate-funded campaigns. Not surprisingly, the candidates turned to the same sources that funded the parties for so long.The 1970s Reforms and the Court’s Response-In 1971, the Congress enacted FECA and the Revenue act in response to the rapidly increasing costs of the new media campaigns. The Watergate break-in and the other dirty tricks led to more campaign finance reform. A number of FECA provisions were challenged in court and the candidate spending and self-funding limits never took effect. The parties were certainly not favored in this new campaign finance regime.Adapting After Reform-Both parties emerged from this period of transition with stronger, more professional party organizations, each financially secure and more diversified in their activities. Perhaps the most visible change was that both parties’ national committees and congressional campaign committees began to raise significantly more money. Soft money helped the national parties invest in their organizational infrastructure. In their zeal to raise soft money, both parties attracted unwelcome negative attention. The national parties also used their enhanced finances to upgrade and expand their mobilization efforts. The Democratic and Republican party committees also have robust presence on the Internet.The Post-Reform/ Deregulation Era-The parties have not kept pace with other campaign finance actors, so that the financial influence of parties relative to other campaign finance actors appears to be diminishing. Two factors are contributing to this new campaign finance environment. First, there have been a number of changes to the campaign finance rules themselves. Second, we have seen more competition in elections for offices at all levels.
1) Parties in Gov’t: Staffing the Executive Branch
1A) The Birth of Parties2) Presidential Appointments in the 20th Cen. (p.303)• The Constitution and the debates from which it sprang, anticipated no role for political parties in staffing the gov’t.1B) The Spoils System
• The framers seemed to believe that the president would make wiser personal choices than any collective body sharing the appointed power.
• One man of discernment is a better fit to analyze and estimate the particular qualities adapted to particular offices, than a body of men of equal discernment.
• The appointment process of the President was not thoroughly discussed by the founders.
• Parties usually present bargaining, and will rarely have advancement of public serves as the primary objective.
• The political litmus test of appointment changed rapidly after George Washington retired , and after the Supreme Court Case of Marbury v. Madison appointments would always seek the prize of partisan politics• Partisan control of presidential appointments reached its zenith with the election of Andrew Jackson in 18281C) The Creation of Civil Service
• To political observers of this time, jobs in gov’t began to be viewed as rewards for political services to the successful candidate.
• This was a time of intense partisanship in American politics.
• Gov’t jobs were becoming increasingly valuable currency
• Presidents came to realize that a well-timed appointment of a political supporter of a member of Congress or a party boss could produce votes for legislation in Congress.
• This was also a time when US senators were chosen by their state legislatures, not by direct election.• Efforts to reform the staffing process of the fed gov’t appeared as early as the 1850s, but the biggest reform was the Pendleton Act of 1883 that still spread in the century to follow
o The Pendleton Act of 1883: created the federal civil service system.? Set forth the principle that gov’t jobs should
• be open to and available to all citives
• be filled by those who successfully demonstrate that they are best qualified for the position
? Established the policy that examinations were the best and most objective way to determine those qualifications.
? Established for/ Provided civil servants with
• protections against political removal
• a pattern of continuity
o civil servants would continue in office even as the presidency changed hands.
? Created a Civil Service Commission to supervise this system and protect its neutrality from politics. How?
• The Civil Service Commission’s membership had to reflect a degree of partisan balance2A) 1900-19323) Parties and Presdential Leadership: An Acceleration Evolution• The appointment process in the 1st 1/3 of the 20th century varied little from what it was in the 2nd ½ of the 19th cen.2B) 1933-1952
• Presidential appointees and Presidents were qualified for the positions they gained.
• But partisan pressures in the appointment process were still very present, because, at the time, there was no alternative source of candidates for appointment outside of parties.
• Parties provided a steady stream of politically approved candidates for federal office, a function that was crucial in a gov’t that lacked any other tested means of recruitment for positions outside civil service.• Despites the familiar look of FDR’s patronage operation changes were set in motion by New Deal that would have lasting effects for the staffing of presidential administrations.2C) 1952-1968• Dwight Eisenhower was the last partisan president of the 20th cen.,2D) 1969 and Beyond
• During the 1952 transition the New Work consulting firm of McKinsey and Company was commissioned to do a study identifying the most important positions in the gov’t.
• In the 1960 election, Kennedy won with little partisanship
• After Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson continued the practice of operating a White House personnel office—as privileged by the Congress in 1939 as a result from the New Deal.• The movement to centralize control over presidential appointments reached new levels of sophistication and success in the administration of Richard Nixon and those that followed.
• In 1969 the White House Personnel Office became an important component of the White House Office and grew in size.
• The most important characteristic of the modern appointment process, and the one that most critically affects the influence of political parties, has been the creation of a genuine and aggressive recruitment or outreach capability within the White House staff.
• The thrust of most of the contemporary development of the White House personnel operations has been to grasp the initiative, to relieve presidents from reliance on external sources for their appointees.
• The successful establishment of a recruiting in the W.H has left the parties with little remaining control over a function they once dominated.• The years after WWII have been a time of diminishing influence for the national party organizations in the operations of the presidency
3A) The Game Changed• After WWII many of the positions appointed outside of Washington were taken out of the public service reform movement3B) The Number of Important Presidential Appointments Grew• From the beginning of the New Deal onward, the # of senior level positions in the fed. gov’t grew.3C) The Power Situation Changed
• Many of these new positions required appointees with a high level of technical or scientific competence b/c they bore responsibility for complex gov’t programs
• As a consequence of the growth and increasing sophistication of the gov’t’s senior appointive positions, presidents needed to develop their own personal recruitment operations• AS the federal gov’t came to play a larger role in American life, appointees who developed and implemented programs became more powerful.3D) Changes Outside the Appointment Process• Parties could claim a dominate role in the presidential appointment decisions only as long as they were able to control the candidate nominating process.4A) The Continuing Problem of Political Control
• With the degrading party control of presidential nominations there has been a simultaneous rise in national special interest groups.
• In 2010, there were nearly 13,000 registered lobbyists in Washington.
• These groups were both much more substantive and much more focused than the major political parties.
• In recent years, identity groups have also assumed a more influential role in an appointment decisions.• A defining characteristic of the 20th century was the steady and successful effort to isolate public employment from political pressure
• That only a few thousand fed civilian employees filled political appointment suggested that Americans are suspicious of politics and parties.
• When parties were the dominant influence in the presidential personnel selection, the notion reigned that getting control of the gov’t meant establishing partisan control.
• However, this notion didn’t work in practice.
Ch. 13: Alan I. Abramowitz, “American Political Parties in an Age of Polarization”
Notes by M. Blair Casebere, Fall 2014
I. Part 1
• Polarization is the most dominate feature of the American political system today.II. Part II The Debate: Elite vs. Mass Polarization
• Over the past 40 years, the gap between the 2 parties in Congress, and nominees for president, has increased across a wide range of policy issues, such as…o Health care• Liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats are almost extinct, according to Sinclair.
o Financial regulations
o Abortiono In the 2010 midterms election most of the Dem.s who lost their seats were moderates, but their replacements were generally very conservative Reb., many elected with the support of the Tea Party movement.• While there is still some ideological differences among Dem.ic and Reb.an state parties, the differences are generally much smaller than in the past.
o With the loss of many of the moderate Dem.s, many of the Dem.s remaining in the House were considerably more liberal.• Among political scientists there is a general agreement that polarization of American politics and partisan has substantially created a sharp divide between political leaders—especially party elites.III. Part IV Ideological Realignment and the Demise of the New Deal Party System
• However, the acts of political leaders and the growth of the mass show that this sharp divide between party elites has occurred from polarization between the mass public.
• Evidence shows that political elites represent the views of the politically engaged public.• The first cracks in FDR’s New Deal coalition began not long after his death in 1945.IV. Part V A Growing Racial Divide
• It was inevitable that the New Deal coalition would eventually break apart, containing segregationist and unionists.
• Among voter belonging to the three main groups of the ND coalition, the data show a steady and dramatic decline in Democratic identification that began during the 1950s and has continued into the 2,000s.
• By 2010, Dem.ic identification among white Catholics and northern blue-collar workers had fallen below 50% and all Southern whites had become one of the most Reb.can voting blocs in the electorate.
• By the end of the twentieth century the conservative South had become a Republican stronghold and the liberal Northeast had become a Dem.ic region of the nation.
• The decline of the New Deal coalition was part of a bigger transformation of the American party system in which identification to a party went from being an attachment by membership to being an attachment based on policy preferences and ideology.
• Group membership is no longer the prime determinate of party identification in the US.
• Rising levels of edu. among the American public/mass meant that the voters were able to better understand the ideological cues that they received.
o For example: 8% of the voting population was made of college graduates (in the 1950s), and that 8% jumped up to 26% by 2012, while the those with only a grade school edu.ion dropped from making up 34% of the voting population to 3%.
• However the mass communications media has undoubtedly contributed to both increased awareness of party differences and increased ideological polarization of the public/mass.
• The dramatic shifts in party loyalties of social groups such as those constituting the ND coalition have been primarily driven by ideology.• Perhaps the most important long-term trend contributing to the rise of polarization in the 21st cen. is the racial and ethnic diversity of the American population.VI. A Growing Geographic Divide
• Nonwhites now make up close to 50%, if not more, of the US population. New people from different backgrounds may create new policy issues for parties and the mass to divide over, becoming more polarized.
• As a result of the great increase of non-whites to the Democratic party and the slight increase of non-whites to the Republican party, the racial divide between supporters of the two parties has widened from a very narrow gap in the 1950s to a yawning chasm in the 21st century.
• Not only is the racial divide between supporters of the two major parties enormous, it is likely to grow even larger over the next several election cycles.
• The steady rightward drift of the Reb.can Party, particularly towards their hard-line position on the issue of immigration, are now threatening to undermine future Latino support for the GPO.
V. A Growing Cultural Divide
• Religiosity is now a powerful predictor of party identification and candidate preference among white voters in the United States.
• Regardless of income, religious whites have voted overwhelming Reb.
• On the other hand, regardless of income, secular whites have voted overwhelmingly for Dem.ic presidential candidates.
o In the 1960 presidential election, 82% of white Catholics voted for Dem.ic John F. Kennedy, and 71% of white Protestants in the North voted for Reb.can Richard Nixon
• Since the 1960s, the partisan divide between white Catholics and Protestants has gradually diminished as a result of the ideological realignment of the American party system.
• However, as the Catholic-Protestant split diminishes the divide between religious and nonreligious has occurred.
• Between the 1960s and the 1980s Dem.ic identification declined among both observant and nonobservant whites, the gap between the two groups has grown only slightly.• In his keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in 2004, President Obama famously minimized the differences between Americans living in the red states and blue states.VII. Explaining the Red-Blue Divide
• President Obama was widely praised in 2004 for trying to move past the bitter divisions of the Bush years, yet President Ob’s 2008 election produced the divisions between the red states and blue states in recent history.
• In the 2008 election there were far fewer closely contested states and more landslide states, resulting in a new standard for geographic polarization in the modern era.• The deepening divide in voting between red states and blue states is a reflection of differences between the social characteristics and political beliefs in these two types of states.VIII. Polarization and American Democracy: Is Gridlock Inevitable?
• Perhaps the most politically significant differences between the social characteristics in the red vs. blue states involve their religious orientations.
• Religious differences go a long way toward explaining the red-blue divide in partisanship and presidential candidate preference.
• The political attitudes and behavior of voters in red states and blue states also differed fairly dramatically.
• The candidate preferences of voters in the red and blue states were consistent with theiro Underlying partisan• When it comes to political geography, Americans today are closely and deeply divided.
o Ideological orientations
o Views on major campaigning issues.
o Voters in blue states were much less likely than their red counterparts to identify with the Republican Party or to describe themselves as conservative.
• A state doesn’t tend to be closely divided within itself, unless it’s New Hampshire or Iowa.
• Differences in party affiliation and voting behavior reflect differences in fundamental beliefs about rel., morality, and the role of govn’t in American society.
• The results of this growing red-blue divide areo General elections have become less competitive• This trend is not a result of partisan gerrymandering, but of important changes in American politics and society. Therefore, is unlikely to reverse any time soon.
o Primary elections have become more important in choosing officials
o Incentives for bipartisan cooperation/compromise have eroded away.• Whatever the 2012 election results from, the deep ideological divide between the 2 major parties will remain a sig. obstacle to any bipartisan compromise.
• There is little doubt that Senate Dem.s would use the same tactics to obstruct the will of a Reb. President and Congress if they found themselves in the minority after the 2012 election.
• The fundamental prob.m, according to the Madisonian principles, is that the American political system was not designed to work under conditions of intense partisan polarization.
• But modern political parties quickly developed during the first ½ of the 19th cen with the expansion of the franchise and the need to mobilize a mass electorate.
• Parties play the role of being a link between candidates and elected official and the public; and in the American political system by organizing the legislative process and helping to bridge the separation of powers byo Creating a bond of self-interest between the pres.t and members of his part in the House and Senate.• There are 2 formulas for overcoming gridlock.
o For this bond to work, the Pres. and Cong. need to have control of the same party—if not, then, as we have seen with the 2010 midterm election, the deeper the ideological divide b/t the parties, the greater the probability of gridlock.o Bipartisan compromise—which is preferred by editorial writers
1. Problem: It is almost impossible to reconcile Dem.s and Reb.s in their ideologies.
o Party Government—a more plausible formula.
1. Problem: Midterm elections would interfere with party control needed for the policies of the elected party be implemented and work.
2. Pro: The fact that the majority party is likely to find itself in the minority at some point in the near future can act as a check on the abuses of power or ideological overreach.
3. Neutral: In a polarized political system, the alternative to party government in not bipartisan compromise—“it is continued gridlock.”
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