Politics and elections
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Politics and Elections. The Origins of Political Parties. Madison’s view of “faction” First U.S. political parties: Federalists and Anti-Federalists Battle began over a strong central government vs. states’ and individual rights. “Congressional Pugilists,” a 1798 political cartoon.

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Politics and Elections

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Politics and elections

Politics and Elections


The origins of political parties

The Origins of Political Parties

  • Madison’s view of “faction”

  • First U.S. political parties: Federalists and Anti-Federalists

  • Battle began over a strong central government vs. states’ and individual rights

“Congressional Pugilists,” a 1798 political cartoon


The origin of political parties hamilton vs jefferson

The Origin of Political Parties: Hamilton vs. Jefferson

  • Hamilton

  • Strong federal government

  • Jefferson

  • Limited national authority

  • Rule by elite

  • Believed in ability of farmers and common people to rule themselves

  • Loose interpretation of Constitution

  • Strict interpretation of Constitution

  • Favored national bank

  • Favored paying state debts

  • Opposed national bank

  • Supported merchants, landowners, investors, wealthy

  • Favored payment of national debt, not state debts

  • Tended to support Britain in foreign affairs

  • Tended to support France in foreign affairs

  • Followers formed the Democratic-Republican Party, which eventually became the Democratic Party

  • Followers formed the Federalist Party, which eventually became the Republican Party


The evolution of political parties

The Evolution of Political Parties

  • Federalist Party: first U.S. political party

  • Democratic-Republicans formed in opposition to the Federalists

  • Democratic Party developed from the Democratic-Republicans

  • Whig Party arose to counter the Democratic Party

Henry Clay

Andrew Jackson

Daniel Webster


The evolution of political parties continued

The Evolution of Political Parties (continued)

  • The Republican Party rose from the ashes of the Whig Party

  • The Democratic Party lost influence from its association with the Southern states during the Civil War

  • The Republican Party became the dominant party in the second half of the 19th century

  • The Democratic Party regained support via the reform movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries

An 1860 campaign poster for Abraham Lincoln


The role of political parties

The Role of Political Parties

  • Parties organize individuals with similar ideas who work to effect political change

  • Citizens may freely choose their party affiliation, or opt to have none at all

  • Parties can represent a wide variety of interests

  • Parties aim to elect people to government who will help pass laws in their favor


Third parties in a two party system

Third Parties in a Two-Party System

  • Usually form in opposition to one or both major parties

  • Have had great influence without ever winning the presidency

  • Bring attention to important public issues ignored by the major parties

  • Complaints about third parties:

    • They take votes away from major candidates with similar positions

    • Supporting a third-party candidate “wastes” one’s vote

Third-party poster from the 1912 presidential campaign


Discussion questions

Discussion Questions

  • What are factions, and why did James Madison and many of the other Founders distrust them?

  • Trace the development of the first political parties in the United States. What were these parties, when did they arise, who led them, and who were their major supporters?

  • What is the role of a political party? How do third parties usually form? Do you think they are good for the American political system? Why or why not?


The constitutional basis for presidential elections

The Constitutional Basis for Presidential Elections

  • The Constitution’s Framers doubted the public’s ability to directly elect its leaders

  • Article II: Electors from each state vote directly for president

  • 1804: The 12th Amendment changed the electoral process to a presidential/vice-presidential ticket

Verifying the Electoral College vote in the House of Representatives, 1913


The presidential election process

The Presidential Election Process

  • The public votes for president in November every four years

  • The members of the Electoral College cast the official votes for president the next month, in December


The presidential election process continued

The Presidential Election Process (continued)

  • Each state has a designated number of electors

  • In most states, electoral votes are awarded on a “winner take all” basis; Nebraska and Maine use proportional distribution

  • Out of 538 electoral votes, candidates need 270 to win election

Electoral College votes by state


The road to the white house

The Road to the White House

  • “Throwing one’s hat in the ring”

  • On the campaign trail:

    • Campaigning

    • Caucuses and primaries

    • Nominating conventions


The road to the white house continued

The Road to the White House (continued)

On the campaign trail:

  • Nominating conventions

  • Campaigning and more campaigning

  • Presidential “debates”

  • General election


Opinion polls and their influence

Opinion Polls and Their Influence

  • Questions designed to measure the views or attitudes of a certain population

  • Use in the political sphere

  • Effectiveness

    • Margin of error

    • Factors affecting accuracy


Opinion polls and their influence continued

Opinion Polls and Their Influence (continued)

  • Tendency to sway voters

    • The “bandwagon effect”

    • The “underdog effect”

  • How much should candidates or elected officials react to polls?

Controversy surrounding opinion polls:


Discussion questions1

Discussion Questions

  • How did the 12th Amendment change the way in which presidents and vice presidents are elected?

  • Why did the Constitution’s Framers develop the Electoral College? What determines the number of each state’s electoral votes? Do you feel this is an effective system, or should voters have the ability to directly elect the president?


Discussion questions2

Discussion Questions

  • What does “throwing one’s hat in the ring” mean? Describe the steps of a candidate’s run for the presidency.

  • How do political officials use opinion polls? What are some controversial effects that such polls have on the political process? Do you think opinion polls serve a valid purpose for political officials and the public?


The media as political tools

The Media as Political Tools

  • The inexpensive “penny press” made newspapers available to everyone

  • Early political parties sponsored newspapers to promote their message

  • Radio as a tool for political communication

  • President Franklin Roosevelt’s “fireside chats”

FDR just after giving a “fireside chat”


Television as a political tool

Television as a Political Tool

Advertisers discover the power of television as a political tool

  • “Eisenhower Answers America”: Political ads created during the 1952 election

  • New techniques developed to portray political candidates as “larger than life”

Opening shot of a television ad for presidential candidate Dwight Eisenhower


Television as a political tool continued

Television as a Political Tool (continued)

  • President Kennedy and his use of television

    • Facing his doubters

    • Presidential press conferences

  • President Reagan: “The Great Communicator”

    • Projected a presidential image and his values

    • Staged appearances


Political advertising

Political Advertising

Attack advertising

  • “Daisy Girl”: Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 presidential campaign

A shot of the “Daisy Girl” from LBJ’s 1964 ad


Political advertising continued

Political Advertising (continued)

Attack advertising

  • Willie Horton: George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign

    The “infomercial”

  • Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential campaign

Bush’s “Willie Horton” ad

Perot campaigning on television


Political advertising continued1

Political Advertising (continued)

  • Attack ads stir strong emotions—positive in supporters, negative in opponents

  • Contain some basis in truth

  • Criticized for being unfair and emphasizing the trivial

  • Becoming informed is the best defense against manipulation

A poster from the 1800s attacking Whig presidential candidate Zachary Taylor


New media in politics and government

New Media in Politics and Government

  • The potential of “new media”

  • Web sites, e-mail, and blogs promote better communication between the government and the public

  • Virtual political campaigns

The home page of the U.S. House of Representatives


New media in politics and government continued

New Media in Politics and Government (continued)

  • Virtual political campaigns have also made raising money much easier

  • The impact of new media on politicians, policy, and the public

Barack Obama’s Web site during his 2008 presidential campaign


Discussion questions3

Discussion Questions

  • How did 19th-century political parties get their messages to the public when the established papers wouldn’t carry them? What factors made this possible?

  • How did radio give FDR an advantage over past presidents in promoting his policies?

  • How were the visual techniques in the political advertisements entitled “Eisenhower Answers America” as effective in promoting Dwight Eisenhower as the answers he gave?

  • How did Presidents Kennedy and Reagan use television as an effective tool for promoting their policies?


Discussion questions4

Discussion Questions

  • What are attack ads? Do you think they are an effective means of campaigning? Do you think they are fair?

  • How has the Internet-based new media created a different relationship between political officials and voters?

  • How has the Internet changed the ways in which political campaigns operate?

  • Why must politicians and citizens effectively learn a new set of skills to utilize new media?


Direct legislation

Direct Legislation

  • Initiative: Citizens vote on new laws or amendments to a state’s constitution

  • Referendum: Citizens vote to keep or reject legislation already passed

  • Recall: Citizens decide whether to remove a public official from office before that official’s term expires

Arnold Schwarzenegger first became governor of California through a recall election


Direct legislation continued

Direct Legislation (continued)

Advantages of direct legislation:

  • Strengthens popular sovereignty

  • Counterbalances the influence of special-interest groups

  • Serves to better inform the public about important issues

    Disadvantages of direct legislation:

  • Undermines the system of representative government

  • Forces legislators to take the “safe route” on controversial issues

  • May be influenced by special-interest groups


Election reform

Election Reform

Instances of U.S. election reforms:

  • The secret ballot

    • Also called the “Australian ballot”

    • Became widespread in the U.S. after 1884 election

  • Direct election of senators

    • Began in the state of Oregon

    • Became federal law with the 17th Amendment


Reforming the electoral college

Reforming the Electoral College

Eliminate the Electoral College altogether:

  • The candidate with the popular majority (and at least 40 percent of the total vote) wins the election

  • A runoff election or congressional vote needed if no candidate reaches 40 percent

    Proposals to reform the Electoral College:

  • Winner of each congressional district receives its electoral vote; winner of the most districts gets state’s two “senatorial” votes (as currently done in Maine and Nebraska)

  • Distribute electoral votes proportionally by percentage of popular vote


Reforming the electoral college continued

Reforming the Electoral College (continued)

Arguments for reform:

  • The simplicity of a proportional system

  • Every vote carries equal weight

  • Presidents have been elected without winning the popular vote

    Arguments for keeping the current system:

  • Promotes political stability by encouraging ideologically broad-based campaigns

  • Provides for a “majority rule” rather than a minority of 40 percent

  • Close elections in several states could prolong the final results and cause bitter disputes and/or lawsuits


Campaign finance reform

Campaign Finance Reform

  • In the U.S., a mixture of public and private money funds presidential elections.

  • Private funding of elections:

    • Pro: Any individual or entity can contribute to a campaign

    • Con: Contributions often carry an expectation of something in return, promoting corruption

  • Public funding of elections

    • Pro: Levels the financial playing field

    • Con: Takes away people’s ability to exercise free speech by giving money to a candidate they support


Campaign finance reform continued

Campaign Finance Reform (continued)

  • In U.S., private funding makes up the largest percentage of political campaign financing

  • Two categories of private funding:

    • “Hard money”—Contributed by individuals or organizations to support candidates or promote issues

    • “Soft money”—Raised and distributed by political action committees to promote a candidate or issue

  • Concern raised over the large amounts of money, especially “soft money”

  • Buckley v. Valeo (1976) limited campaign contributions but not spending


Campaign finance reform continued1

Campaign Finance Reform (continued)

Efforts at campaign finance reform:

  • Ross Perot and the Reform Party (1992 and 1996)

  • Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (the “McCain-Feingold Act” 2002)

    • Banned “soft money” donations to political parties

    • Limited advertising by private and nonprofit entities

    • Restricted parties’ use of funds for “issue ads”

  • Survived Supreme Court scrutiny in McConnell v. FEC (2003)


Election controversies gerrymandering

First used in 1812 Massachusetts election

Named for Governor Elbridge Gerry

Newly drawn districts resembled a salamander

Done to create an advantage in upcoming senatorial election

Election Controversies: Gerrymandering


Election controversies modern redistricting

Election Controversies: Modern Redistricting

  • State legislatures can change district boundaries every ten years

  • Majority parties redraw legislative districts to create an electoral advantage

  • Tends to discourage political competition and increases voter apathy

  • Proposals for discouraging the process

Diagram illustrating how gerrymandering works


Election controversies electronic voting machines

Interest has grown in electronic voting since 2000 election

Proponents say more reliable, less expensive, and more flexible than punch card machines

Critics say unreliable, susceptible to fraud, and no accurate paper trail

Election Controversies: Electronic Voting Machines


Discussion questions5

Discussion Questions

  • What are the three methods of direct legislation? After reviewing their advantages and disadvantages, do you think they have a positive or negative effect on the legislative process?

  • What political and election reforms have been implemented or proposed in the United States since the mid-1800s? Which do you think is the most important, and why?

  • What is “gerrymandering”? Do you think it has a positive or negative effect on the political process?

  • Why have voting machines generated such controversy in recent years?


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