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Political Parties. Chapter 8 . Introduction. Party competition is the battle between Democrats and Republicans for control of public office. Without this competition there would be no choice, and without choice there would be no democracy. The Meaning of Party.

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Political parties

Political Parties

Chapter 8



Party competition is the battle between Democrats and Republicans for control of public office.

Without this competition there would be no choice, and without choice there would be no democracy

The meaning of party

The Meaning of Party

Political Parties endorse candidates for public office and try to win elections.

Party leaders often disagree about policy, and between elections the parties are nearly invisible.

Political scientists often view parties as “three-headed political giants”- the party in-the electorate, the party as an organization, and the party-in-government.

Party in the electorate

Party-in-the electorate

Individuals who perceive themselves as party members; many voters have a party identification that guides and influences their votes.

American parties do not require due or memberships cards to distinguish members from nonmembers.

To be a member of a party, one needs only to claim to be a member

Party as an organization

Party as an organization

Has a national office, a full-time staff, rules and bylaws, and budgets.

Party activists keep the party running between elections and make its rules.

American parties are loosely organized at the national, state, and local levels, but the party organization pursues electoral victory.

Party in government


Consists of elected officials who call themselves members of the party (such as president and Congress).

These leaders do not always agree on policy; but they are the main spokespersons of the party.

Research project due wednesday nov 7 th

Research Project Due Wednesday Nov. 7th

Compare and contrast the role of the parties and their platforms in the 2000 and 2004 elections and in the 1948 election of Harry Truman.  Pay special attention to how media, especially television, were used to promote party goals.  Also, focus on the difference between party-centered and candidate-centered campaigns.

The information for the research project can be presented in any form (research paper, powerpoint emailed to me, brochure, poster).

2 party system

2 party system

All political parties have common functions:

-nominating candidates who can develop public policy

-running successful campaigns

-developing a positive image

-raising money

-articulating these issues during the campaign so that the electorate will identify with a particular party or candidate

-coordinating in the governing process the implementation of the policies they supported, and

-maintaining a watchdog function if they do not succeed in electing their candidates



First political parties that formed, Federalists and Democratic-Republicans, went head to head after Thomas Jefferson resigned (from cabinet).

Jefferson’s party, Anti-Federalists, were eventually called Democratic-Republicans (believed in a more democratic approach to the governing of the republic).

First election in which parties crashed was in 1796



1828 Democratic-Republicans split into the Whigs (later evolving into the Republican Party), and the Democrats.

Party eras can be broken down into 4 periods:

-1828-1860 Democrats dominating the presidency and Congress

-1860-1932 Republican era

-1932-1968 success of the New Deal and was dominated by Democrats

-1968-2008 divided government, characterized by the election of Republican presidents having to deal with Democratic Congress

2008 election

2008 Election

2008 Presidential election may signal the beginning of a new party era-one party majority rule.

Obama had the largest congressional majority since Lyndon Johnson.

Era of divided government has shifted to this new era of one party dominance of the executive and legislative branches.

Jacksonian democracy and party realignment

Jacksonian Democracy and Party Realignment

Jacksonian democracy resulted in universal white male suffrage, popular election of presidential electors as a result of the Twelfth Amendment, national nominating conventions, and the institution of the spoils system.

Party realignment, the shift of party loyalty, occurred in 1932 after the country experienced the Great Depression.

A new coalition, fed up with trickle-down economics of Hoover, turned their support towards FDR’s New Deal.

An unusual alliance of Northern liberals and Southern conservatives elected Roosevelt to unprecedented 4 terms.

Growth of the federal government and growth of government programs became part of the Democratic platform.

Hint to know for thursday

Hint to know for Thursday

Components of the Democratic and Republican party platforms

Which demographic groups support which Democratic and Republican positions based on the above components

You will be timed during your multiple choice and essay on Thursday, so be prepared.

Third parties

Third Parties

AKA minor parties- played a major role in influencing the outcome of elections and political platforms of Democrats and Republicans

Ideological, single-issue oriented, economically motivated, and personality driven

Have been called: Socialist, Libertarian, Right to Life, Populist, Bull Moose, and United We Stand

Third parties1

Third Parties

Successful third-party attempts:

-1840s-1850s Free Soil Party (opposed spread of slavery) and Know Nothings (opposed Irish immigration to U.S.)

-1892-1908 Populist Party (supported free silver movement, insisted government take a greater role in regulating monopolies later resulted in anti-trust legislation)

-1912 Bull Moose Party (played spoiler role in election, T. Roosevelt formed the party and came in 2nd that year behind Wilson)

-1968 George Wallace’s American Independent (opposed integration policies of Democratic Party, got 46 electoral votes, contributed to Hubert Humphrey’s defeat)

-1992 Ross Perot United We Stand Party (called for reducing the nation’s deficit, used own money to fund his campaign)

Party dealignment

Party Dealignment

Realignment signifies the shifts in the history of party eras.

Dealignment is when people gradually move away from their parties (has become more of a trend in today’s view of party loyalty).

People who are strong party loyalists are so because they believe the party matches their ideology.

Party organization and support have remained stronger than party identification

Liberals and conservatives

Liberals and Conservatives

Conservatives: favor government spending on defense over social welfare programs; favor right to life; favor moments of silent prayer; favor laissez-faire; critical of many of the Warren Court decision (rights of the accused); against gay marriage

Liberals: favor defense cuts; favor choice of abortion; opposed to school prayer of any kind; see government as a means of dealing with the problems facing society; sympathetic to the rights of the accused

National committee

National Committee

Made up of a combination of state and national party leaders, is governing body of the political party

Has limited power and responds to the direction of the national chairperson

Chairperson is selected by the presidential candidate nominated at the convention

Duties of chairperson include: fundraising, fostering party unity, recruiting new voters and candidates, preparing strategy for the next election



Unlike many foreign countries, American electorate has not turned out in droves in local or national elections (we stink as voters)

Less than half of eligible voters actually vote

The future of political parties depends on how closely associated the voters remain with the party (future not bright for traditional party politics)

More and more ticket splitting is happening (where voters cast ballot on individual candidates, not party lines)



Impact of special-interest groups and PAC’s (political action committees) has reduced the need for elected officials to use traditional party resources.

Suggestions to strengthen voter identification:

-clearly defined programs on how to govern the nation once their candidates are elected

-candidates who are committed to the ideology of the party and who are willing to carry out the program once elected

-alternative views if it is the party out of power

Winning party must take on the responsibility of governing the country if elected and accepting the consequences if it fails.

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