Topic #3 Political beliefs and behaviorsThis powerpoint is available atmrsinghcchs.weebly.com/ap-us-government-review.html
Theories of government • A. Pluralism • B. Elite and Class Theory • C. Hyperpluralism
Political socialization The process by which one acquires their political orientation and beliefs
Political socialization, Continued • Family • The most important agent of socialization • Kids usually end up voting like their parents • Mostly informal
Political socialization, Continued • Mass Media • The “New” parent • Elementary school kids spend more time watching T.V. than in school. • Don’t watch political coverage • New media – Internet, social media • Has the growth of media options helped create fragmentation?
Political socialization, Continued • School • In the U.S. public schools promote basic values like loyalty and democracy, not a specific ideology. • In other political systems, socialization in schools is much more overt.
American Political Culture Political culture are the beliefs a people have about the role and purpose of government
Political Culture, Continued • Equality • Legal – Americans believe in equal treatment under the law and freedom from discrimination • Sources of legal equality include the 14th Amendment, legislation such as the Civil Rights Act (1964), the Voting Rights Act (1965), Title IX
Political Culture, Continued • Equality, continued • Political – The right to participate in the political system by running for office, voting, or engage in other forms of political participation • Political equality has been expanded by the 15th, 19th, 26th Amendments as well as the Voting Rights Act (1965)
Political Culture, Continued • Rights • Freedom of Speech • Most support in theory, but are often intolerant in practice. • Fringe groups often targeted – like Communists during the Cold War
Political Culture, Continued • Rights, continued • Freedom of Religion • Increased tolerance during the 20th century • Some groups still targeted – Muslims • Religious Right tends to be intolerant of non-Christian belief.
Voter turnout • Comparison to Other Countries • The U.S. has one of the lowest voter turnout rates among industrialized democracies. • Below 50% in 1996, 55% in 2004, and 62% in 2008, 58% in 2012 • Turnout is even lower in midterm elections • 2010=40%
Voter turnout • Reasons for low voter turnout • Voting is not mandatory. • Voter fatigue • Party dealignment • Weaker parties (less mobilization, etc) • Declining trust in government • Increase in minority groups and young voters • Larger electorate • NOT ACCEPTABLE – Apathy, cynicism, loss of efficacy
Demographicfactors that affect voter turnout • Demographics – characteristics that can be used to divide a population into smaller groups • Important demographic factors in the United States that impact voter turnout include:
Demographicfactors that affect voter turnout • Age • Older voters have greater turnout. • Education • The more educated one is the more likely they are to vote • Region • The area of a country someone lives in has no significant impact of voter turnout. • Income • The more someone earns, the more likely they are to vote.
Demographicfactors that affect voter turnout • Gender • Women are more likely to vote than men. • Race – BE CAREFUL • When adjusted for other factors (income, education, etc.) minorities have a higher voter turnout than whites. • Political Efficacy - Not a demographic characteristic, but citizens with a high political efficacy vote more often. Political efficacy is the sense that your participation is important and makes a difference.
Sample multiple choice question • Considering all elections at all levels of government, which of the following best describes electoral behavior in the United States? • (A) Primary elections tend to elicit a higher voter turnout than do general elections. • (B) The majority of the electorate does not vote in most elections. • (C) Voter turnout plays an insignificant role in election outcomes. • (D) Adult citizens under the age of 30 tend to have the highest rate of voter turnout. • (E) Voters with strong party identification vote less regularly than do independents.
How people vote (liberal or conservative) • Region • Rural and Southern voters tend to be more conservative; Urban, West coast and Northeasterners tend to be more liberal • Income • Working class Americans tend to be more liberal. • Age • Americans tend to get more conservative as they age • Education • Evidence used to show that the more education one had the more liberal they were. Evidence is not at strong today
How people vote (liberal or conservative) • Party Identification • Even though the numbers of party identifiers has decreased it is the best predictor of how someone will vote. • 2012 • 38% Independent • 32% Democrat • 27% Republican • Race – Again BE CAREFUL • African-Americans and Latinos tend to vote liberal (Latinos less so). • Gender • Women are overwhelmingly liberal • This is referred to as the gender gap
Voting • Voting is the most common form of political participation in the U.S. • It is easy to study and quantify.
Other Forms of Political participation • Hold office • Political discussion • Join a political organization • Protest • NOT Violence • Litigation • Contact public officials • Contact the media • Work on campaigns • Work on voter registration drives • Contribute money • Run for office
Less trust since the 1950s • Reasons • Vietnam • Watergate • Iran-Contra • Clinton-Lewinsky
Divided government • Divided government • Since 1968, government institutions have often been controlled by different parties. • More Partisanship • Decline of the middle • Political moderates are starting to be frozen out • Politicians appeal to the base • Congress more polarized now than anytime since the Civil War
Divided government, continued • Results • Frustration • Slows the confirmation process • Gridlock
Role of Money in politics • Candidates spend too much time fundraising • Increased power of interest groups and lobbyists (Abramoff Scandal) • Keeps good people from running • Perception of wasteful spending
Consequences of the decline of trust • More protest • Decline in voting • Increase in the number of independents • Non-partisan community action • APATHY does not count!
Primaries and caucuses • Primaries • More common than caucuses (38/50 states) • New Hampshire is the 1st primary • Primaries weaken party control • Increase in the number of primaries one result of the 1968 Democratic National Convention • Increase the number of people involved in choosing the candidate – greater citizen input. • Got rid of backroom deals and weakened party bosses
Primaries and caucuses, Continued • Primaries, continued • Primary voters more affluent, educated, and ideological than general election voters. • Open vs. Closed Primaries • Caucuses • More participatory • Iowa holds the first caucuses
Conventions • Conventions • Held in the summer before the presidential election • Mostly a reward for loyal party supporters • Delegates again more educated, affluent, and ideological than the average voter • McGovern-Fraser Commission • Increased the number of female and minority delegates to the Democratic convention • The Democratic Party later added superdelegates to give part leaders greater control over the nomination process.
Elections • Primaries and caucuses are nominating elections – they are the process used to select candidates for the general election • A general election is the election in which voters select which candidate they actually want to serve in each office.
Elections • How the votes are counted – Presidential election • Electoral College forces presidential candidates to compete in “swing states” • These are states that are competitive and have relatively large populations • Winner Take All System helps create swing states • Electoral College does give more weight to smaller states because of the 3 vote guarantee.
Elections, Continued • Elections in the U.S. are First-Past-the-Post/Single-Member District contests • Members of Congress represent a specific geographic area • Winners do NOT need a majority, only a plurality in order to win • This marginalizes third parties in American politics • Candidates only need a plurality to win, not a majority
Sample Multiple Choice • An electoral system based on single-member districts is usually characterized by • (A) strong, centralized political parties and a weak executive • (B) higher rates of voter turnout than are common in other systems • (C) legislative representation of each party in proportion to the number of votes it receives • (D) domination of the legislature by two political parties • (E) ideological rather than mass-based parties
Elections, Continued • Incumbents enjoy a huge advantage in winning elections • Advantage is greater in the House than the Senate
Elections, Continued • Congressional Districts • Redistricting • District boundaries are drawn by state legislatures • Usually done every 10 years after the census • Gerrymandering is drawing districts to give one party an advantage over the other
Sample Multiple Choice • Congressional district boundaries are usually redrawn every ten years by the • (A) Bureau of the Census • (B) state legislatures • (C) President • (D) House Rules Committee • (E) Federal Elections Commission
Elections, Continued • Congressional Districts, continued • The SCOTUS has created some basic rules about redistricting • Districts should be roughly equal in population • Districts should be “compact and contiguous” • Race can be a factor but not the primary factor • Should keep “communities of interest” together
Sample Multiple Choice • Which of the following is generally true of gerrymandering of congressional districts? • (A) It results in more Democrats being elected in the House. • (B) It results in more Republicans being elected to the House. • (C) It guarantees that all minority parties will be equally represented. • (D) It creates districts that favor one political party over another. • (E) It violates the principle of one-person, one-vote.
Elections, Continued • Congressional Districts, continued • In districts with large numbers of non-English speakers, voting materials must be provided in native languages according to the Voting Rights Act (1965)
Elections, Continued • Critical Elections • Critical Elections result in party realignment • Realignment is when the basic supporters of a party have changed • For example, the South used to be controlled by the Democrats. Today it is solidly Republican • Proof of long term shifts rather than “nature of the times” shifts. • Some critical elections include 1932 and 1968
Sample Multiple Choice • The concept of “critical elections” is most closely associated with • (A) the electoral college process • (B) elections during wartime • (C) the nomination process • (D) economic recession • (E) party realignment
Federal Election Campaign Act (1974) • Created the Federal Election Commission (FEC) • In charge of administering campaign finance laws • Led by a bipartisan commission • Requires disclosure • Candidates must file quarterly reports detailing where the money came from and where it went • Political Action Committees (PACs) • PACs are a tool to track union and corporate donations • A PAC can contribute $5000/candidate per cycle • The number of PACs has grown tremendously over the past 30 years
Sample Multiple Choice • Which of the following is a correct statement about political action committees (PAC’s)? • (A) The number of PAC’s has remained stable over the past decade. • (B) Most PAC money is distributed to challengers in an effort to unseat hostile incumbents. • (C) The amount of money that a PAC can contribute directly to an individual candidate is limited by law • (D) PAC’s are illegal in most states. • (E) PAC’s rarely attempt to influence legislation through lobbying activities.
Federal Election Campaign Act (1974), continued • Created Matching funds for presidential campaigns • Once a presidential candidate reaches certain thresholds, the federal government will match funds raised by that candidate • If a candidate took federal money, they agreed to federal limits • Recent candidates have not accepted federal funding • Created limits on how much could be given to a candidate – hard money • Did not address soft money • Soft money was money donated to parties for GOTV and grass-roots campaigns