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  1. Elections and Campaigns 10-1

  2. Elections and Campaigns What are the Constitutional requirements for elections? • Election rules were left up to the states. • Only the House was directly elected by the people. • Senators were selected by state legislatures. • The President was selected by the Electoral College. Elections and Campaigns

  3. Presidential Elections The constitutional rules governing the selection of the president reflect three fundamental themes that guided the Framers’ thinking. • The states were given a broad discretion on key matters regarding presidential elections. • The Framers designed the presidency with George Washington in mind and really did not spell out in great detail all aspects of the presidency. • The presidency was envisioned as an office that would be above party politics. Elections and Campaigns

  4. The Electoral College The means by which the president of the United States is elected was borne of compromise between the interests of the states and the interests of the people. • The formal selection of the president is in the hands of electors, who collectively constitute the Electoral College. • Electors are individuals who actual serve in the Electoral College, casting votes for the president. • The Electoral College is the 538 presidential electors who meet every four years to cast the electoral votes for president and vice president of the United States. Elections and Campaigns

  5. The Make-up of the Electoral College The selection of electors was originally the responsibility of state legislatures, whose members were, for the most part, elected by the people. • The idea was that the state legislatures would serve as gatekeepers against rash or ignorant voters. • Today, the people of each state—not the members of state legislatures—choose the electors. Elections and Campaigns

  6. How the Electoral College Works The actual electors are selected in a variety of ways in the fifty states. • Each party lines up electors for its candidate prior to the election. • Each state receives a number of electoral votes equal to the number of senators and members of the House of Representatives. • The minimum number is three, because every state has at least one House member and two senators. Elections and Campaigns

  7. How the Electoral College Works (Cont’d) All  the electoral votes in a state are allocated to the candidate who finishes first in the voting. • Winner-take-all system is where whoever wins the most votes in an election wins the election. • Nebraska and Maine allocate votes by congressional district and can, therefore, split their electoral votes. • To win the presidency, a candidate needs to win a majority (270) of the 538 electoral votes. • If no candidate wins a majority in the Electoral College, the decision for President is made in the House, whereas the Vice President is selected in the Senate. Elections and Campaigns

  8. How the Electoral College Works (Cont’d) Elections and Campaigns

  9. Problems with the Electoral College • The Electoral College has never worked as the Framers envisioned—an institution that would allow for a group of independent decision makers to get together in the many states and deliberate over who would make the best president. • States set their own rules for selecting electors, and as a consequence, state’s rules for selecting electors and the timetable for selection vary widely. • The biggest problem occurs when winning the nation’s popular vote does not automatically translate into a Electoral College win. Elections and Campaigns

  10. Why Not Do Away With the Electoral College? Some may wonder why the country does not just change the rules to select the president through the popular vote. • The Electoral College does encourage candidates to secure support in all corners of the country. • Eliminating the Electoral College would decrease the role of the states. • Doing away with the Electoral College would require a constitutional amendment. Elections and Campaigns

  11. The 2000 Election Gore received about 600,000 more votes than Bush—just a .5 percentage point difference (48.4 percent to 47.9 percent). • The state of Florida was too close to call (Bush led Florida by 537 votes out of 5.8 million votes cast—a .0001 percent difference). • Although this event raised distrust about the fairness of the Electoral College in the short run, the effect was not long lasting. Elections and Campaigns

  12. Congressional Elections The Senate was intended by the Framers to bring state interests to bear on the legislative process, whereas the House was intended to represent the people; a compromise between the interests of states and the people. • Each state has two senators, regardless of size. • Seventeenth Amendment provided for direct election of the Senate. • Terms are staggered. • House members are allotted based on proportional representation. • Entire House is up for election every two years. Elections and Campaigns

  13. Redistricting The Constitution requires that representatives be apportioned, within each state, according to population, which is counted every ten years in a census. • State legislatures are responsible for drawing the district lines, in a process known as redistricting. • The majority party in the state legislature tries to construct each district in such a way that makes it easier for its candidates to win congressional seats. • The politicization of drawing districts is called gerrymandering. Elections and Campaigns

  14. Gerrymandering The term gerrymander comes from this salamander-shaped district in Massachusetts, which Governor Elbridge Gerry approved following the census of 1810. Political rivals denounced the blatant seeking of political advantage that had produced such an oddly shaped congressional district, and the taunt stuck, passing into common usage in politics. Elections and Campaigns

  15. Other Elections • In some states, voters can cast ballots on specific policies through initiativesand referenda. • Initiatives are the process by which citizens place proposed laws on the ballot for public approval. • Referenda are the processes by which public approval is required before states can pass laws. • No developed country has as many elections as the United States, as citizens also elect a variety of state and local officials. Elections and Campaigns

  16. The Presidential Campaign Once a candidate decides to run for president, he or she enters what has been called the invisible primary. • This is the period just before the primaries begin during which candidates attempt to capture party support and media coverage. • Candidates who can get attention from the news media can raise more money and secure more endorsements from party leaders. • Incumbent presidents usually win their party’s nomination for a second term. • This phase of the campaign has tended to favor party insiders, candidates who have deep ties to major party leaders. Over the last 30 years, President Obama is the only non-insider to win nomination. Elections and Campaigns

  17. Caucuses and Primaries To win a party’s nomination, candidates must secure a majority of delegates to the national party conventions. • About 70 percent of the states use some form of primary election, an election in which citizens go to the polling booths and vote for their favorite party candidates. • The other 30 percent use caucuses, which are something like a town meeting where people discuss the candidates. • They have low turnout. • Frontloading—States have been moving their primary and caucuses dates earlier to avoid the possibility of holding an election after the winner has already been determined. Elections and Campaigns

  18. The National Convention Following the primary season (January–June of an election year), each party meets in a national convention. • Prior to the 1960s, conventions were often exciting, because it was far from clear who would be the nominee. • Because of television, parties want an orderly convention that emphasizes party unity and impress viewers. • As result, party leaders created rules so that the nominee would be known in advance of the convention. Elections and Campaigns

  19. Fundraising and Money No one could run for president without funding. • Party nominees are eligible for public matching funds—adollar amount equal to the amount the candidates raise from private contributors with a limit per individual contributor and an overall cap. • There are eligibility requirements to receive these funds. • There are private contribution limits. • In 2008, individuals could give $2400. • Some contributors bundle money (amass contributions). • Political action committees (PACs) are groups formed with the express purpose of donating money to candidates; they could give $5000. Elections and Campaigns

  20. Fundraising and Money (Cont’d) Financing: Increasingly, candidates have decided to forego matching funds in their quest for the nomination. • One reason is to be able to spend money in states important to the contest without regard to FEC limits. • They believe they can raise (and spend) more money if they do not accept federal matching funds. • During the 2008 presidential campaign, McCain did use public funds, receiving about $80 million from the government, but Obama opted out. He spent $730 million, breaking all previous fundraising records. McCain spent $333 million dollars during that same period. Elections and Campaigns

  21. Total Spending by Presidential Candidates, 1976–2008 Elections and Campaigns

  22. Swing States Even though partisanship is extremely high, swing voters still exist—those who do not fall into either the Republican or Democratic camp—and so do swing states, those that might vote either Democratic or Republican in a particular election. • Though the number of swing voters varies from year to year, it is usually about 20 percent of the electorate. • Both McCain and Obama campaigned hard in Pennsylvania—a battleground state that each thought they had a chance to win. Other key battleground states in 2008 were Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia. • Nearly 90 percent of campaign visits were to battleground states. Elections and Campaigns

  23. Micro-targeting Since the 1960s, when consumer behavior became a popular field of study, direct marketers have refined the practice of gathering detailed information on different cross-sections of consumers to sell their products. • Gathering detailed information on cross-sections of the electorate to track potential supporters and tailor political messages for them is also called narrowcasting. Elections and Campaigns

  24. Campaign Issues Campaigns are very much shaped by issues. • For greater understanding of how issues influence campaigns, political scientists have drawn a distinction between valence issues and position issues. • Valence issues are noncontroversial or widely supported campaign issues that are unlikely to differentiate among candidates. • Position issues are political issues that offer specific choices in policy and often differentiate candidates’ views and plans of action. Elections and Campaigns

  25. Wedge Issues Because campaigns are competitive struggles for votes, candidates look for ways to secure extra votes while maintaining existing support. • One strategy is to use a wedge issue that has the potential to break up the opposition’s coalition. Wedges usually involve controversial policy concerns, such as abortion or gay marriage, which divide people rather than build consensus. Elections and Campaigns

  26. Negativity Candidates are very good at telling voters why they should vote for them, but they are also good at telling the public why they should not vote for their opponents. • One of the most famous negative ads was the “Daisy spot,” aired only once by President Lyndon Johnson (1963–1969) in his 1964 campaign against the Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater. The implication was that Senator Goldwater, if president, would start a nuclear war. • In the 2008 campaign, about two-thirds of all statements were negative. • Eighty percent of the public dislike negative ads. Elections and Campaigns

  27. Negativity in Presidential Campaigns The “Daisy spot” is perhaps the most famous negative ad in American history. It was aired only once by President Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 campaign, and it never explicitly mentioned his opponent, Senator Barry Goldwater. But Goldwater had made statements about the possible use of nuclear weapons, and they made the meaning of this ad clear and emotionally resonant. Elections and Campaigns

  28. Prediction Models Political scientists have developed prediction models that yield specific estimates of the vote share in presidential elections. The best models use some combination of the following: • The economy. What is the condition of the economy? A strong economy leads voters to support the incumbent party. A struggling economy gives an edge to the challenger. • Presidential popularity. How popular is the sitting president? An unpopular president will hurt the chances for his party’s candidate. • The incumbent party’s time in office. How long has the incumbent party controlled the presidency? The American public has showed a consistent preference to support change. Elections and Campaigns

  29. Congressional Campaigns Nearly all congressional campaigns start with a primary election at which the party’s official candidate is selected. • The general election then follows. • These campaigns occur every two years. • In the Senate, one-third of all seats are contested every two years. • For the House of Representatives, every member faces reelection every two years. Elections and Campaigns

  30. The Decision to Run Those who choose to run for Congress are usually visible residents of their district or state. Often they already hold a local or state-level elected office. • Both incumbents—those already holding the office—and challengers generally begin campaigning nearly two years before Election Day. • The contests that occur in between the four-year presidential election cycles are called midterm elections. Elections and Campaigns

  31. The Fall Campaign Following the primaries, the two winning candidates often revise their campaign message to attract more moderate voters. • To win the general election, candidates usually need votes from party members as well as Independents and members of the opposing party. • Elections are often battles over the so-called middle. Elections and Campaigns

  32. Issues in Congressional Campaigns Congressional elections do not draw as much attention as presidential elections, but they involve many of the same issues. • Money and fundraising are concerns and again the Federal Election Commission (FEC) sets limits. • Voters almost always reelect House and Senate members, so whether congressional elections actually serve to hold Congress accountable is a question for American democracy. • If times are good, the party in power is rewarded. Elections and Campaigns

  33. Fundraising and Money Federal campaign finance laws set the same limits on congressional elections as on presidential elections. • An individual can contribute up to $2400 to a candidate in the primary and the same amount for the general election. • Individuals can contribute to candidates in different races, up to a total of $45,600 for primaries and the same amount for general election campaigns. • Candidates also raise money from PACs, which are limited to donating $5000 for a primary election, and $5000 for a general election, to a single candidate. • These rules provide an advantage to those who are personally wealthy and able to make good use of personal or business connection. Elections and Campaigns

  34. The Role of Political Parties Of the other sources of financial support available to candidates, the most important is the political party. • Parties are forbidden by campaign finance laws from actively coordinating a specific individual’s congressional campaign. • Local parties can engage in general activities, such as voter registration drives, partisan rallies, and get-out-the-vote efforts. • National parties can pay for campaign training for candidates and their staffs, hold general party fundraisers, and buy campaign advertisements that attack the opposing candidate so long as they do not mention their party’s candidate. Elections and Campaigns

  35. The Role of Political Parties (Cont’d) Both the Democratic and Republican parties have congressional campaign organizations designed to recruit and support candidates for the House and Senate. • Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee • National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee Elections and Campaigns

  36. Reelection Rates of Incumbents in Congress, 1996–2008 Elections and Campaigns

  37. Incumbency Advantage Incumbents almost always win. • In House races, they are reelected about 95 percent of the time. • In Senate races, they are reelected at least 80 percent of the time. • Since 1960, the number of competitive races has been in decline, a trend called vanishing marginals. Such districts are often referred to as safe seats. Some argue this impedes accountability and advocate term limits. • Members often engage in strategic retirement, deciding against running for reelection when the outcome is likely to be unfavorable. • Being an incumbent can be a disadvantage, however, if one’s party has fallen out of favor with the voters. Elections and Campaigns

  38. Relative Lack of Interest Voting rates in congressional elections, particularly in midterm elections, are always lower than in presidential elections. • As a result, voting is driven  largely by two major forces: partisanship and incumbency. • Voters follow party identification and vote for their party’s candidates. • There is also the effect of presidential coattails—that is, a popular president running for reelection brings additional party candidates into office. • The normal occurrence, however, is that the president’s party loses, on average, 25 seats in midterm elections. Elections and Campaigns

  39. Competing Views of Participation Hamilton Model • Sees risks in greater participation and, thus, favors a larger role for elites • Sees people as often uninformed and unable to make the best choices Jeffersonian model • Holds that more participation yields a more involved and engaged public and that, in turn, produces better outcomes • Want to see more participation, believing that the people can be trusted and that it will push government to be more responsive to the people’s interests Elections and Campaigns

  40. Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian Models of Participation Elections and Campaigns

  41. Who Votes? • Voting is an important gateway to influence, but not everyone has the inclination or the desire to do so. • Low turnout raises questions about government’s responsiveness, and unequal turnout by various demographic groups suggests that government’s response is unequal, too. Elections and Campaigns

  42. Who Votes? (Cont’d) Turnout • In 1996, about 48 percent took the time to vote in the presidential contest between Bill Clinton and Senator Bob Dole. • By 2008, the rate of participation improved to over 57 percent. • In midterm congressional elections, which are low-stimulus elections, turnout is usually less than 40 percent. • For primary elections during presidential nominations, turnout ranges between 20 and 40 percent. • Often, less than 10 percent of eligible citizens votes in local school board elections. Elections and Campaigns

  43. Gap in Voter Turnout by Age in Presidential Elections, 1972–2008 Elections and Campaigns

  44. Demographics and Voting • The data suggest that those who are most likely to vote tend to be better educated, better paid, and older. There are some modest race and gender differences; but when scholars control for differences in education and income, differences on race pretty much disappear. Elections and Campaigns

  45. Race, Ethnicity, and Voting • Whites have a slightly higher rate of participation than blacks. • In 2004, 60 percent of blacks and 67 percent of whites voted. • In 2008, the gap disappeared: 66 percent of whites reported voting, whereas 65 percent of African Americans did so. • About 47 percent of Asian Americans vote. • Native Americans appear to have the lowest rate of turnout, although precise estimates have been difficult to gather. • Latinos vote at about 50 percent, but the rate is increasing. • In general, turnout rates among ethnic minorities tend to be below the average for the entire country. Elections and Campaigns

  46. Sex and Voting Women turn out at a slightly higher rate than men, by perhaps 3–5 percentage points. • The gender gap is important in American politics; but the gap focuses mostly on different political preferences, such as the greater tendency of women to identify themselves as Democrats than men. Elections and Campaigns

  47. Age and Voting • Turnout peaks once voters are about 45 years old and continues at that rate until advanced age sets in. • In 2004, around 70 percent of citizens over 65 years old claim to have voted. • The proportion is just 47 percent for those under 24 years of age—and it is even smaller for those 21 years old and younger. Elections and Campaigns

  48. Income and Voting • The higher one’s income, the more likely one is to vote. • In 2004, over 80 percent of those with total family incomes of more than $100,000 report that they went to the polls. • For the income range that represents the annual median family income in America, which is $40,000 to $50,000, turnout is 69 percent. • For the least well off (those earning less than $20,000), the proportion who claim to have voted is 48 percent. Elections and Campaigns

  49. Education and Voting • Years of formal education seem to be the most important influence on the tendency of someone to vote. • When the youngest voting eligible citizens (18- to 24-year-olds) have a college degree, they are 14 percentage points more likely to vote than older citizens (65 and above) who do not have a high school education. • The gap between those with the least education and those with the most is 50 percentage points in 2008. • Nearly three-fourths of college-educated people vote, whereas less than a quarter of those with just a grade school education vote. • New evidence indicates that going to college does not matter as much as childhood socialization, which imbues the values of citizenship and similarly affects the decision to attend college. Elections and Campaigns

  50. Rates of Turnout (percent) in Presidential Elections by Education, 1988–2008 Elections and Campaigns