chapter 10 elections and campaigns ap us government nov 1 2013 n.
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Chapter 10: Elections and campaigns AP US Government, Nov.1, 2013. Campaigns then and now. Old-school: Parties . Why old-school? Split-ticket voting The Australian ballot Open primaries Front-loaded primaries Increase in # of registered independents

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campaigns then and now
Campaigns then and now

Old-school: Parties. Why old-school?

  • Split-ticket voting
  • The Australian ballot
  • Open primaries
  • Front-loaded primaries
  • Increase in # of registered independents
  • Technology – don’t need parties to build name recognition
  • Decline of patronage tied to parties (remember Pendleton and Hatch Acts?)
then and now cont
Then and now (cont.)

New school:

  • Consultants
  • Pollsters
  • Tech firms
  • Direct mail firms
  • etc.

It costs LOTS of money. Just how much? Well….

money and elections
Money and Elections

Last presidential election:

  • Obama raised $1.20 billion.
  • Romneyraised $1.18 billion.

Where did that money come from? (See next slide)

top contributors of campaign funds
Top contributors of campaign funds


  • U. of Cal $1.212mm
  • Microsoft $814,645
  • Google $801,770
  • Gov’t EEs $728,647
  • Harvard $668,368


  • Goldman $1.033mm
  • B of A $1.013mm
  • Morgan $911,305
  • JPMorgan $834,096
  • Wells Fargo $677,076
but that s chump change compared to
But that’s chump change compared to…

…”super PAC” contributions.

Contributor $ contributed to a Super PAC

  • Sheldon Adelson (casinos)$30,000,000 (R)
  • Bob Perry (homebuilder) $17,250,000 (R)
  • R. Rowling (hotels, Gold’sGym) $6,100,000 (R)
  • James Simons (hedgefunds) $5,000,000 (O)
  • F. Eychaner (newspapers, media)$4,500,000 (O)
a quick word about super pacs
A quick word about “Super PACs”
  • They cannot contribute money directly to a campaign or coordinate with a campaign, but otherwise they are free to raise and spend as much money on political speech as they can.
  • We’ll talk more about them later.
how about something more local
How about something more local?

Cong. Bonner’s last race:

  • Spent $1.263mm
  • Top contributors:
    • Northrup Grumman $20,000
    • Univ. of South Alabama $14,800
    • EADS $11,000
    • BC/BS $10,750
    • Balch & Bingham $10,500
money is already entering the next race
Money is already entering the next race
  • People seeking to become a Senator or Representative already are well under way in raising money. See
even more local mobile mayoral race
Even more local: Mobile Mayoral Race

(Through first week of August)

  • Sandy Stimpson: Raised $1,360,665
  • Sam Jones: Raised $344,365

The point: It costs a boatload of money to run for just about any political office.

what do you get for all that money
What do you get for all that money?
  • Media consultants
  • Direct mail firms (for both fundraising and campaigning)
  • Ads, particularly negative ones (which are nothing new, by the way; see below)
    • The Coffin Handbills used by supporters of John Quincy Adams against Andrew Jackson in the 1828 presidential campaign. Jackson's mother was called a prostitute, and his wife an adulteress.
    • The Daisy ad used by Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater in the United States presidential election, 1964. See
    • Willie Horton and Revolving Door ads used by in the 1988 presidential campaign against Michael Dukakis.. See
    • Attacks against George W. Bush's military record in the 2004 presidential election, and attacks against John Kerry's Vietnam service record by some Navy Swift Boat veterans of the Vietnam War.
  • Other (travel, polling, administrative, etc.)
attempts to regulate the money
Attempts to regulate the money
  • As we go through this, remember: Money is like water. It will find the cracks.
tillman act
Tillman Act
  • Passed in 1907.
  • Banned corporations from contributing to federal campaigns.
    • A response to allegations of corruption levied against TR
    • Corporations welcomed it as a relief from being shaken down by politicians.
    • Was amended in 1911 to include disclosure provisions and extend to primaries.
    • Law was rarely enforced, though.
  • No:
  • Sorta yes:
taft hartley act
Taft-Hartley Act
  • Prohibited unions from contributing to federal campaigns.
  • Unions figured out how to get around it: through something called a political action committee (PAC), which was a group that solicited money from the union’s employees using union support for administrative and fundraising activities.
    • Note that corporations and unions still were barred at this point from making contributions; their PACs, though, could.
    • Why the distinction? Because the law saw a difference between the company and its employees.
  • Corporations followed shortly thereafter with their own PACs.
federal election commission act
Federal Election Commission Act

The FECA was passed in 1973 and it --

  • Created the Federal Election Commission (FEC)
  • Required disclosures of where contributions are coming from
  • Put in place public financing of presidential campaigns
  • Limited individual contributions to candidates (no more than $1k to any one candidate per single election (since raised to $2.6k))
feca cont
FECA (cont.)
  • Limited expenditures, both by candidates and others
  • Clarified the rules governing PACs (and in so doing indirectly blessed them).
    • Must have at least 50 voluntary members and contribute to at least 5 candidates.
    • Contribution limits: $5k per candidate, $15k per party.
  • Note that it imposed no limits on “soft money” (i.e., money given to political parties for party-building activities, like get-out-the-vote efforts or voter registration; can also be raised by other groups for issue ads, e.g., but can’t legally be used in connection with a federal election).
post feca

Guess what? People found a way around.

  • First, there was Buckley v. Valeo(1976).
    • Buckley struck down the personal spending limits on candidates’ spending their own money (while upholding contribution limits).
      • Buckley also established the principle that “express advocacy ads” (like “Vote against X” or “Elect Y”) must be paid for with regulated money (i.e., $ subject to contribution limits).
      • So, people and companies started giving a lot of soft money to political parties. The parties started abusing that in ways to help specific candidates.
mccain feingold act
McCain-Feingold Act

So along comes the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA, a/k/a the McCain-Feingold Act). Among its provisions:

  • It outlawed unregulated soft money contributions; in other words, you can still give soft money but only up to the contribution limits (about which more later).
  • It banned “electioneering communications” funded by corporations or unions (i.e., issue ads that may name a candidate but stop short of saying “vote for” or “vote against x” and that are run within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election).
  • It also raised the individual contribution limits from $1k to $2k.
post feca cont
Post-FECA (cont.)

People got around the limits on soft money by setting up “527s” (named after the section of the Internal Revenue Code that allowed them).

  • A 527 is a political organization that can raise and spend unlimited money on “issue ads” but they could not engage in “express advocacy ads” (now changed; see Citizens United).
  • Example of a 527: The Swift-Boat Veterans for Truth.
  • Initially a 527 didn’t have to disclose who gave it money, but that was changed in 2005.
response cont
Response (cont.)
  • In FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life (2007), the Supremes found that McCain-Feingold cannot ban “issue ads” – i.e., ads that do not endorse or oppose any specific candidate (but get awfully close to doing so).
    • So these were okay even the day before an election.
    • Court drew very narrow test: “an ad is the functional equivalent of express advocacy only if the ad is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.”
  • The issue of advocacy ads remained to be addressed. Enter Citizens United.
citizens united v fec 2010
Citizens United v. FEC (2010)
  • This decision made it possible for corporations and unions to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on political activities – including issue ads and express advocacy ads – subject to a couple of catches.
    • The corporations/unions can’t coordinate with a campaign. These must be “independent expenditures.”
    • BCRA disclosure requirements still apply.
  • So after Citizens United, corporations and unions can spend their own money on both “issue ads” and “advocacy ads” at any point in the campaign.
  • Instead of forming a regular old PAC and channeling employees’ contributions, a corporation now can spend its money directly.
  • Note that this applies to nonprofit corporations, too. So 527s like the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth now can go after candidates directly.
how effective is this firewall between the campaigns and the super pacs
How effective is this firewall between the campaigns and the Super PACs?
  • Remember: a super PAC can raise unlimited sums of money – from corporations, unions, individuals, etc. – and spend them on political speech as long as the PAC does not give to, or coordinate with, a campaign.
  • The rule: no expenditures made “in cooperation, consultation, or concert with, or at the request or suggestion” of candidates or their representatives.
blurred lines
Blurred lines
  • The line between super PACs and campaigns has blurred. There are lots of connections through consultants, media advisors, hiring of staffers back and forth, etc.
  • See, e.g., “Fine Line Between ‘Super PACs’ and Campaigns” ( (summarized in part on next slide).
blurred lines cont
Blurred lines (cont.)
  • Romney:
    • His campaign and Restore Our Future (a pro-Romney super PAC) both used TargetPoint Consulting.
    • TargetPoint shares an office suite with WWP Strategies, whose co-founder is married to TargetPoint CEO and who worked for Romney campaign.
    • Black Rock Group is across the hall. Co-founder was a Romney official in 2008 campaign and helps run Restore Our Future.
  • Obama:
    • A pro-Obama super PAC called Priorities USA was formed by 2 former Obama White House aides.
    • Obama administration officials are helping it raise money.
super pacs explained by stephen colbert
Super PACs explained by Stephen Colbert:
how much are we talking about
How much are we talking about?

Top 4 super PACs in last presidential campaign:

Super PACExpenditures

  • Restore Our Future $142,097,336 (R)
  • American Crossroads $104,746,670 (Conservative)
  • Priorities USA $37,498,257 (O)
  • Majority PAC $35,844,122 (Liberal)
one more image of the money game
One more image of the money game
  • Largest reported total that Adelson gave to one super PAC: $30 million (Restore Our Future).
  • Total that Adelson reportedly gave to all candidates and groups in 2012 election: approximately $150 million. (
anything left of the feca
Anything left of the FECA?
  • If a candidate accepts federal funds, then he or she must agree to spending caps ($45.6mm in primaries and $91mm in general election). Seems almost quaint, doesn’t it?
  • And there are still individual contributionlimits; Buckley upheld these, although they’ve been raised. See current limitson next slide.
current limits
Current limits
  • Individuals:
    • $2,600 to any one candidate per election
    • $5,000 to any one PAC per year
    • $123,200 total every two years
  • PACs:
    • $5,000 to any one candidate per election
    • No aggregate limits
  • Complete list:
most recent challenge
Most recent challenge
  • McCutcheon v. FECis challenging the FEC’s limit on how much an individual can spend in a two-year period.
  • McCutcheon is arguing that this aggregate limit is an unconstitutional violation of his First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association.
  • The USSC heard this case this term and is expected to issue an opinion early next year.
  • If the Court rules for McCutcheon… (see next slide)
if you don t want to disclose donors
If you don’t want to disclose donors…
  • …then set up a “501(c)(4) group.” These groups are limited to operating for the “social welfare.”
  • Examples of these groups:
    • Some long-standing ones:
      • NRA
      • Sierra Club
      • League of Women Voters
      • Planned Parenthood
    • Some newer ones:
      • Crossroads GPS (Karl Rove’s group)
      • Americans for Prosperity (Koch brothers)
      • Patriot Majority (a liberal group)
501 c 4 groups cont
501(c)(4) groups (cont.)
  • Why is this option considered a loophole? Because “social welfare” has been interpreted to include informing people about political issues.
  • So, if candidate X is for an issue that you oppose, form a 501(c)(4), solicit unlimited, anonymous donations, and blast away at the “issue.”
  • You can even engage in express advocacy, as long as that’s not the primary purpose of your organization – i.e., 50.1% of your $$ is spent on things other than express advocacy.
501 c 4 groups cont1
501(c)(4) groups (cont.)
  • These are sometimes called “dark money” because you don’t know who’s contributing.
  • Is this a problem?
    • Yes:
      • Citizens swamped with political ads

will be unable to judge source –

and therefore the motives & credibility

of source.

      • “Grassroots” groups may in fact be funded by one rich guy.
    • No:
      • People should be able to give to even controversial causes without risking negative publicity and retaliation.
      • Allows donors to give without being bombarded with more requests for donations by other groups.
the real kicker
The REAL kicker
  • A dark money group can raise money from anonymous donors and then contribute it to other 501(c)(4) groups or a Super PAC!
  • Even if a 501(c)(4) group gives most of its money to another group that engages in political activities, that’s okay, b/c the 501(c)(4) group was not.
  • Remember: money is like water.
campaign finance summary of sorts
Campaign finance summary (of sorts)
  • First, start with FEC individual and PAC direct contribution limits: These still apply (at least until McCutcheon is decide).See
  • PACs can contribute directly to candidate or party, but only up to certain limits.
  • Super PACs:
    • May NOT contribute directly to candidate or party.
    • MAY raise and spend unlimited sums of money on issue ads or express advocacy ads.
    • Contributors must be disclosed (although can circumvent disclosure laws by giving to a social welfare group, who can spend without having to disclose donors).
  • Social welfare groups (i.e., the 501(c)(4) groups) don’t have to disclose contributorsbut are limited in their activities…sort of.
summary cont
Summary (cont.)
  • Presidential candidates still have option of public funding of campaigns but major candidates have declined this in past two elections. This will remain an irrelevant option until the funding increases dramatically.
  • “Ban” on soft money still exists.
  • Ban on foreign corporation contributions still exists.
  • Corporations and unions are still subject to a ban on direct contributions to a candidate, but who cares? Just form a super PAC and you can achieve much the same objectives. But don’t coordinate with the candidate!
  • 501(c)(4) groups are one of the newest ways around the laws.
same graphic in interactive form
Same graphic in interactive form
presidential v congressional races
Presidential v. Congressional Races
  • Money
    • Way more spent by

presidential candidates

    • More even than all

congressional races


  • Competitiveness
    • Congressional races less

competitive (House incumbents

win 90%+ of the time, usually

with 60%+ of the vote)

presidential v cong l elections cont
Presidential v. Cong’l elections (cont.)
  • Turnout
    • Lower for off-year elections
    • Congressmen competing for votes of people who tend to be more ideological
  • The Blame Game
    • Congressmen blame Congress (!)
    • The Prez can try to but more of the blame usually falls on him
  • Pork
    • Congressmen run on record of bringing goodies back to the district/state
    • President doesn’t have the same sort of wins to brag about

N.B. These 3 factors help explain why so many incumbents win reelection (along with better name recognition, money, casework, seniority, scaring off good challengers, etc.)

presidential v cong l races cont
Presidential v. Cong’l races (cont.)
  • The “coattail” phenomenon: a popular candidate at the top of the ticket helping weaker candidates of the same party in other elections.
  • Book: The phenomenon ain’t so phenomenal. Some doubt it exists at all.
  • If that’s correct, then this is one more reason why political parties are waning.
so you wanna be president
So you wanna be president?
  • Good to be a governor (Bush II, Clinton, Reagan, Carter)
  • Senator? Also good (Obama, Nixon, LBJ, Kennedy)
  • Vice President? Pretty good, particularly if your boss dies or quits. (LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Bush I)
  • Representative? Forget it. (Last one was Fordand the circumstances were odd.)
what do these people have in common
What do these people have in common?
  • Virginia Sen. Mark R. Warner
  • Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
  • Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.)
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN)
  • Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley
  • Newark Mayor Cory Booker

They all paid visits to Iowa last year.

The point: you better start early if you want to run for President.

presidential primaries
Presidential primaries
  • Presidents often have to tack further out to the extremes to get nominated.
  • Why? Because voters in primaries tend to be more extreme in their political views.
  • This can come back to haunt them.
    • Romney's senior campaign adviser: "I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.”
primaries cont
Primaries (cont.)
  • Don’t forget: Primaries are frontloaded.
  • Some graphics to help:

No: Yes:

electoral college
Electoral College
  • You vote for a slate of electors, who in turn vote for President.
  • In half the states, the electors are legally bound to vote for the person they said they’d vote for; in the other half, it would be political suicide for someone not to do that.
  • So why do we go through the motions of the rubber-stamp exercise?
  • Which takes us to today’s debate:
    • Resolved: The Electoral College should be abolished and replaced with a direct popular vote.
electoral college cont
Electoral College (cont.)

Some pros and cons:

  • Pros
    • By encouraging the two-party system, we are more cohesive.
    • Minorities may get more attention than they otherwise would, since they can swing an election.
    • Requires a distribution of the popular vote to get elected. Can’t just focus on big cities.
    • A focus on big cities might consistently skew results pro-Democrat.
    • Preserves our federalist system by maintaining role for the states.
    • Reduces already extensive impact of money in politics by allowing candidates to focus on small number of swing states.
    • Practically very difficult to amend the Constitution.
    • Might create more of a mandate than a close popular vote would produce.
electoral college cont1
Electoral College (cont.)
  • Some cons
    • Winner of popular vote may not win presidency; undermines legitimacy.
    • The winner-take-all approach in 48 of 50 states may keep voter turnout low.
    • Possibility (albeit remote) of the “faithless elector”
    • May wind up with House deciding President (and Senate deciding V.P.) by casting one vote per state; this gives small states huge advantage over big ones
    • Rural states over-represented given how # of electors is computed.
    • Over-weights swing states.
    • Hurts 3rd-party candidates.
    • Is pointless today.
electoral college cont2
Electoral College (cont.)

The trouble with the Electoral College:*

  • An alternative:
  • *Thanks to Cameron for showing these to me.
running for congress
Running for Congress
  • A refresher: among the other benefits that incumbents have is an 1842 law that mandated single-member districts. Makes it hard to overcome.
  • Many benefit from gerrymandered districts.
    • Packing & cracking okay

unless done to discriminate

in a way that hurts

racial/ethnic minorities.

    • Recall Gomillion v. Lightfoot (1960) (redrew a square into a 28-sided something)
congressional races cont
Congressional races (cont.)
  • Can’t have “malapportioned” districts. Recall Wesberry v. Sanders (1964) (one district with 3x the voters as another is unconstitutional).
  • Today incumbents are tied to their districts and not the parties when it comes to reelection. Further weakens the parties.
primary v general campaigns
Primary v. General Campaigns
  • Two kinds of primary season events:
    • Caucuses (a meeting of people where they vote on who they want to be the party nominee)
    • Primaries (election to vote on the nominee)
  • Two kinds of issues:
    • Position: An issue that divides the public and on which the candidates take positions
    • Valence: An uncontroversial issue where voters look for person/party who can best solve it
the worst slide ever p osition v valence issues
The worst slide ever:“Position” v. “valence” issues

“Positionissues are those on which people can take positions (for or against public ownership of industries, for example). Valence issues are those on which nearly everyone takes the same side (against crime, for a strong economy, for example). Politics, it is argued, is increasingly about valence issues — the differences between the parties on position issues have become relatively small.

For voters deciding which party to support, then, the question is not which party takes ideological or policy positions that they share but which party is likely to be most competent at achieving the goals that are widely shared (such as reduced crime, low inflation, a well-run health service). Making judgments like this is not straightforward and demands some knowledge of what parties might do or have done in the various policy areas.

Voters, therefore, tend to use a convenient short cut. They make judgments about the party leaders. This is a much simpler task. We don’t need to know much about policies or politics to decide whether we like or dislike the party leaders that we see often enough on television. We can all have opinions about people without necessarily knowing very much about them.”

types of primaries a refresher
Types of primaries (a refresher)
  • Closed or open?
    • Arguments for open (i.e., anyone can participate in the primary):
      • Preserves confidentiality
      • Allows independent voters to participate
    • Arguments for closed (i.e., must be a registered member of the party holding the primary):
      • Prevents “raiding”
      • Makes candidates more responsive to party
    • N.B. States cannot require an open primary if the parties object. See Democratic Party v. La Follette (1981).
  • Runoff required? Not with plurality voting.
debates and speeches
Debates and speeches
  • Debates:
    • Incumbents hate them, challengers crave them
    • Free publicity but fraught with peril.
    • See
  • Speeches:
    • Candidates develop a stump speech
    • No freelancing
    • Sell the person more than his/her ideas
what decides elections
What Decides Elections?
  • Party affiliation helps.
    • Recall that parties provide labels that a lot of voters still use.
    • Party affiliation is the NUMBER ONE factor in predicting how someone will vote.
    • But that can’t be all; if it were, the Ds would win all the time.
      • In fact, Ds aren’t as loyal as Rs are.
      • Rs also typically fare better with Independents.
      • And a higher % of Rs vote than Ds.
  • Cheesy graphic #1:
what decides the election cont
What Decides the Election (cont.)
  • Issues
    • True, we don’t know a lot about the details, but we’re pretty good with the big picture.
    • Prospective voting (like ideas) vs. retrospective voting (like record)
      • Former takes a lot of information. Usually political junkies.
      • Latter: are you better off now than you were? Reagan nailed this; see Retrospective voters decide elections.
    • For those not voting per party affiliation, the economy (and success/failure at war, if we’re in one) matter the most.
what decides the election cont1
What Decides the Election (cont.)
  • The campaign/the character of the candidate
    • These can matter in 3 ways:
      • Stir party loyalty
      • Show a candidate under pressure
      • Allow voters to size up a candidate’s character

Cheesy graphic #2:

do elections affect policy
Do Elections Affect Policy
  • Some say nope.
    • We have a large center that both parties cater to.
    • Most elections are not critical; they are just retrospective judgments on how the government is doing.
    • Congress gets bollixed up by the minority party, so little of consequence at the extremes gets done.
    • The bureaucrats continue to run the government.
  • Others say yep.
    • Priorities differ, bills reflect that.
    • There clearly have been consequential elections – 1860, 1932, 1980 (maybe)