Elections in America • Presidential elections: held every 4 years on the first Tuesday in November • Congressional elections: held every two years on the first Tuesday in November
Elections in America • The Constitution gives states control over elections in within their borders • Localities typically administer elections • Elections are overseen by state regulators
Types of Elections • Three types of elections: • Primary • General • Runoff
Types of Elections • Primaries • Parties choose the candidates who will run in the general elections • States can also hold caucuses, in which members meet and vote in the open
Types of Elections • General elections • Determine who gets to hold office • Typically draws the most voters • Runoff elections • If a candidate does not win a majority in the general election, some states hold a runoff between the two highest vote-getters
Types of Elections • Referenda • 24 states allow citizens to vote on law directly through holding a referendum • Held at the same time as an election
Criteria for Winning • Majority vote: to win, the candidate must receive at least 50% of the votes, plus one • Plurality vote (aka first-past-the-post): the candidate with the greatest number of votes wins
Electoral Districts • Congressional and state legislative districts are typically drawn every 10 years in a process known as redistricting • Most districts are gerrymandered to serve a particular group’s interest
Electoral Districts • Gerrymandering • Packing: ramming many voters of one party into a district to dilute their votes in other districts • Cracking: tearing up dense pockets of party voters to dilute their votes in that district • Stacking: merging two districts of the same party to force incumbents to run against each other
Chapter Warm Up • One person , one vote • Spilt ticket • Rhetoric, narrative, ideology • Proportional representation • cracking, stacking and packing • Butterfly ballot • Smoke filled rooms • Legal gerrymandering • Styles of campaigns
The Campaign Narrative • The formula: What is the problem? Who are the villains? Who are the victims? Who are the heroes? What is the common sense solution? • Republican narrative: heroes, villains, victims, common sense solutions. • Democratic narrative: heroes, villains, victims, common sense solutions.
Electoral Districts • Congressional districts should be contiguous, compact, and consistent with existing political subdivisions • Race can no longer be the deciding criterion
Ballots • Ballots can take many forms, and each state makes its own. • Some differences among states are: • Party line voting • Electors, not the candidates’ names, listed first • Party affiliations not listed • Voting machines, paper ballots, punch cards, or touch screens
Electoral College • Because the average citizen was not trusted to make the right decision in voting for president, the Founders created the Electoral College system. • Even today, citizens do not vote for president, but rather for electors.
Electoral College • Each state has a number of electors equal to its number of U.S. Representatives and Senators • All states but Maine, Massachusetts and Nebraska allocate all electors to the popular vote winner
Chapter 10 WHO SUPPORTED OBAMA IN 2008?
Who Supported Obama in 2008? Election Results by State Population John McCain (R) Barack Obama (D) SOURCE: Mark Newman, “Maps of the 2008 US presidential election results,” www.personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2008/ (accessed 7/8/10).
Who Supported Obama in 2008? Election Results by State Electoral College Votes SOURCE: Mark Newman, “Maps of the 2008 US presidential election results,” www.personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2008/ (accessed 7/8/10).
Electoral College • The electors vote at their respective state capitols the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. • If no candidate has a majority of the electoral votes, the House decides the result, with each state getting one vote.
Election Campaigns • Campaigns: efforts by political candidates and their supporters to win the backing of donors, political activists, and voters in their quest for political office.
Election Campaigns • The first step is to allow candidates to start raising money and accepting donations. • Two methods: • form an exploratory committee • file papers announcing candidacy
Election Campaigns • Staffing
Election Campaigns • Primaries • Personality clash: candidates’ policies are roughly the same • Ideological struggle: candidates’ policies differ dramatically
Presidential Elections • Parties select their presidential candidates by delegates sent from each state • GOP: winner-takes-all • DEM: proportional to state vote share • Most states hold primaries, but some hold caucuses
Presidential Elections • The primary season is earlier each election • States seek to be influential by voting early • Some states with late primaries are debating abandoning them
Presidential Elections • Early conventions selected the candidates themselves • Primaries and caucuses were non-binding • Deals were cut in “smoke-filled rooms” • Party leaders wanted to determine candidates
Presidential Elections • Contemporary party conventions • Ratify the decisions made in primaries • Enact any new rules for future delegate selection • Draft party platforms • Present candidates and the party platforms to voters
General Election Campaign • Labor-intensive v. media-intensive campaigns • Labor-driven campaigns • Volunteers campaigning door-to-door • Media-intensive campaigns • Goal is to get media attention • Few volunteers, lots of fundraising
General Election Campaign • Free Media v. Paid Media • Free media: coverage by the press and visits to talk shows • Reach wide audiences • Can be unpredictable • Paid media: advertisements purchased by campaigns • Expensive • Message is controlled