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Party as Organization. Last week The personal vote Ballot reforms, communications technology and the political economy of modern campaigns Party as Organization. 2nd Homework assignment. Due in class Oct. 22

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Party as organization l.jpg

Party as Organization

Last week

The personal vote

Ballot reforms, communications technology and the political economy of modern campaigns

Party as Organization


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2nd Homework assignment

  • Due in class Oct. 22

  • abstract: put it on your title page; one paragraph that states the take-home message of your essay (along the lines of “I argue that … because ….”

  • 3-paragraph introduction: hook, thesis, roadmap

    • hook: state your question and something about why it is important.

    • thesis: state your answer to the question, including at least a hint of why your answer is a good one.

    • roadmap: what are the key points you want your reader to pay attention to in your argument?


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The personal vote

  • states varied in their election timing, but federal election dates were standardized before the Civil War

  • If the federal office on the ballot is way more important than other offices, voter choice at the “top” of the ticket determines choice of ticket

    • personal characteristics of candidates at the top of the ticket matter

    • reelection strategies: advertising, position-taking, claiming credit

    • collective policies are problematic for credit-claiming

    • incentives to personalize policy actions for voters


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Problems with the personal vote

  • Multiple offices on a party-strip ballot create “free-riding” opportunities

  • Party organizations built on patronage may induce inefficiently large government

    • this is a form of rent-seeking; encourages third-party entry

  • Australian ballot and primary elections allow voters to hold individual candidates accountable for their performance, but make it harder to hold a party collectively accountable


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Evolution of campaigning

  • 19th-century campaigns depended on party labor to spread the message and get out the vote

  • Ballot reforms allowed voters to hold individual incumbents accountable at the expense of collective responsibility

  • Personal accountability  incentive to have personal organization  incentive to raise money to hire staff and expert advisers

  • Radio, telephone, automobiles all dramatically lower the costs of communicating with individual, distributed voters. Each costs money


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Party as organization

  • Scott Lay discussed the structure of party organizations in Calif. and the U.S.

    • the parties are quasi-public entities; their structure and governance in Calif. are regulated by state law

    • central authority in each constituency that controls use of the brandname; functions include authorizing clubs to use the brandname; candidate recruitment; fundraising; coordinating campaign efforts; some policy advocacy


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Local machines

  • 19th century party organizations tightly tied together electoral activities with governance activities

    • before synchronous mass communications, campaigning was highly distributed, highly personal

    • few government jobs were “professional”; most changed hands with changes in administration or “patron” – hence, “patronage” jobs


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Progressive/Populist reforms

  • Pendleton Act of 1883, municipal and state reform movements in 1880s-1900s pushed for increased efficiency and accountability in government

    • many gov’t jobs became professional civil service positions (careerist, not partisan)

    • many other gov’t jobs were outsourced via contracting, which allows for competitive bidding

  • Sources of pressure: Tiebout hypothesis about competition for resources


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Ballot Change and Reform

  • Australian ballot separates co-partisans on a ticket; each is more responsible for his/her own electoral fate than under party strip

  • Primary elections open greater opportunities for within-party competition for nominations

    • primary electorate is (potentially) much broader than old convention-style nominations

    • party hierarchy risks splitting the party when it gets involved in primaries


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Communications and Party Structure

  • Synchronous mass communications technology (radio, tv) allows the candidate to speak directly to voters. Greater control of the message; shift from labor to cash as key resource

  • telephone and direct mail strategies also reduce dependency on labor, increase need for cash

  • parties switch from managing labor to fundraising as key function


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