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Campaigns & Elections. POSC 121 Braunwarth. Saffell “How Voters Decide”. What are the primary factors considered by voters in their voting decision? Party Affiliation Characteristics of the Candidate Issues Is this surprising to you? Why or why not?. Two Elections.

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campaigns elections

Campaigns & Elections

POSC 121


saffell how voters decide
Saffell “How Voters Decide”
  • What are the primary factors considered by voters in their voting decision?
  • Party Affiliation
  • Characteristics of the Candidate
  • Issues
  • Is this surprising to you? Why or why not?
two elections
Two Elections
  • Campaigns/Elections occur in two stages:
  • Primaries to win the party nomination
  • Party members/Voters select the candidate, not the party Leaders/Organization
  • Presidential primaries are staggered, giving more importance to early primary states
  • Culminate in the Convention
    • Essentially scripted TV commercials
    • Used to be where candidates were chosen
  • General election for the office
  • Candidates must appeal to the party faithful to win the nomination then move to the center to win the election
the electoral college
The Electoral College
  • Plurality elections in each of the 50 states
  • Even third parties with widespread support are unlikely to get electoral votes
  • Win electors; How many in each state?
  • # of Representatives and # of Senators
  • Makes winning the big states key (CA has 55)
  • Campaigns center in “swing” states where the race is up for grabs
  • Map/Maps Cartograms of 2008 election
campaign necessities
Campaign Necessities
  • Must have the “fire in the belly” to put up with the long duration and intense scrutiny of the campaign
  • This deters otherwise qualified candidates
  • Money is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient for electoral success; Must either have it or be able to raise it
what s the matter with money
What’s the Matter with Money
  • Excludes those who can’t raise it; like who?
  • Third Parties, Working Class advocates, etc.
  • Inequalities in the ability to donate translate into political inequality
  • Politicians have to spend up to half of their time raising it
  • Can it buy access?
  • Are officials more likely to meet with someone who can contribute or with you?
  • Can it buy support?
  • Votes are NOT for sale but well funded and organized groups can win changes in tax code or regulatory policy that we all must pay for
can money buy support
Can Money Buy Support?
  • There is a strong correlation between contributions and how a candidate votes
  • But correlation does not prove causation
  • People donate money to politicians who will support the donor’s cause
  • Rather than the money driving the vote of the politician, its the vote driving the money
  • Politicians may favor interests who can donate $
insidiousness of money
Insidiousness of Money

Efforts to regulate campaign donations have had mixed success (Campaign Finance Legal Center)

When prohibited direct donations from corporations and unions,

  • They created Public Action Committees (PACs).

When limited donations to candidates (hard $),

  • Contributors gave to parties (soft $).

When limited soft money,

  • Contributors fund “527” “issue advocacy” ads.

To limit overall spending in Presidential campaigns,

  • Have had to coerce through the provision of public matching funds.
campaign finance reform
Campaign Finance Reform
  • One problem is we are asking Congress to reform a system by which Representatives currently benefit
  • Another problem is the constitutional issue of spending money to get out a message as a form of free speech
  • What reforms would you suggest?
  • Abolish Soft Money? Spending Ceilings? Expand Public Financing? Free Media?
ca progressive movement
CA Progressive Movement
  • Led by Hiram Johnson (Gov. in 1910, Senator 1916)
  • Increased democratization:
  • Initiative (people make laws directly)
  • Referendum (veto acts of the legislature)
  • Recall (remove elected officials from office)
ca initiatives
CA Initiatives
  • Constitutional or Statutory

Constitutional: changes the Constitution

  • need signatures of 8% of percent of turnout for last Gov. race (693,000)

Statutory: need only 5% (433,000)

  • Which is more common? Why?
  • Constitutional can’t be invalidated because conflicts with CA constitution
ca legislative initiatives
CA Legislative Initiatives

Legislature must get public approval through initiative if:

  • Put state in debt (bond issues)
  • Change the Constitution
  • Alter or Amend laws originally passed as ballot measures
  • Legislators occasionally don’t want to touch controversial issues and pass the buck to the voters
ca referendums
Effort to invalidate laws already passed by the legislature

Must get 5% signatures within 90 days to delay implementation of the law

Rarely used. Why?

Time Constraints

Just use an initiative

CA Referendums
use of initiative is increasing
Use of Initiative is Increasing
  • Increasingly is seen as an alternative to the traditional legislative process

a. Economic Interests who have some-thing to gain or defend (businesses, trade associations, unions, etc.)

b. “Grass roots” Interests: cigarette smoking, services to illegal immigrants, nuclear safety, CA coastline, etc.

who benefits
Who Benefits?
  • Initiative process was intended to empower the people and free CA politics from the railroad “barons”
  • Does it still work this way?
  • Was intended for the people but now tends to benefit those already well-off and established
  • The initiative process has become very expensive (professional campaign firms, paid petition circulators, ads, etc.)
  • If one doesn’t have resources, it’s hard to use
  • Ironically, the initiative process has become dominated by big money special interests.
  • Benefits the Haves > Have-Nots
ca recall
CA Recall
  • Elections to remove an elected official from office
  • Used to remove Gov. Davis in 2004
  • Voters were primarily upset with the poor state of the economy and the budget
  • What were the primary causes of these problems?
  • General Economic Downturn, Dot-Com bust, Terrorist Attacks, Electricity Crisis
  • Is Davis responsible or to blame for any of these?
  • Is this Direct Democracy run amok?
why about representative democracy
Why about Representative Democracy?
  • Legislators, in theory, represent needs of all individuals in their district
  • Propositions often present an extreme view which must be decided yes or no
  • Consequently often poorly drawn
  • Bypasses legislative process of debate, amendment, and compromise
  • Symptomatic of cynical mistrust of elected officials
who loses
Who Loses?
  • Tyranny of the Majority often violates the norm of Political Equality
  • At expense of Minorities and Outgroups
  • Only 1/3 of inititiatives pass with public approval
  • But 3/4 that restrict the civil rights of minorities and homosexuals have passed
  • Public Approval does not mean ethically right or constitutionally valid
  • Prohibiting same-sex marriage propositions: 2008 Prop 8, 2000 Prop 22
  • 1996 Proposition 209 “The California Civil Rights Initiative” equating Discrimination with Preference
  • English Only propositions: 986 Proposition 63 (English only)
  • 1998 Proposition 227 (no bilingual education)
  • How comfortable are we with Hyperpluralism?
  • Does the Initiative process facilitate or hinder democracy?
  • How will Teledemocracy change direct participation in the future?
  • How will this affect the quality and stability of decision making?
  • What dangers do you foresee?
  • How will turnout be affected?
  • What groups will use to their own ends?