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POLITICAL PARTIES JANDA, 7 TH ED. 2003 Political analysts discount third parties because the structure and dynamics of U.S. politics work strongly for the operation of a two-party system. However, third parties can affect elections, ex. 2000 presidential election.

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political parties


JANDA, 7TH ED. 2003

Political analysts discount third parties because the structure and dynamics of U.S. politics work strongly for the operation of a two-party system.
  • However, third parties can affect elections, ex. 2000 presidential election.
Party politics in the United States is two-party politics, and the two parties are the Democrats and the Republicans.
Their domination is more complete than that of any other pair of parties in any other democratic government.
  • Most people take our two-party system for granted not realizing that it is the most unique feature of American government.
political parties and their functions
  • Although many people regard political parties with suspicion, parties are an essential component of democratic government.
  • Elections are the primary means through which citizens control their government.
  • Could not have elections without parties.
  • However, citizens remain suspicious and distrustful of parties.
interest groups
  • Distinct from parties.
  • Interest groups may support candidates but never sponsor them as their representatives.
  • Influence decisions from the outside


  • A POLITICAL PARTYis a an organization that sponsors candidates for political office under the organizations name.


Both the candidate and the organization acknowledge the same label, and the label conveys significant meaning throughout the electorate.
parties perform important functions for the political system
Parties perform important functions for the political system.
  • They NOMINATE...
  • They STRUCTURE ...
  • They PROPOSE …
  • They Coordinate…
they shape public opinion
They SHAPE public opinion.
  • Give cues to voters on how to vote.



a history of u s party politics
  • American political parties have a long and complex history.
  • Parties were not mentioned in the Constitution and did not exist in any recognizable form in the Pre-party period, which lasted through Washington’s first term of office.
In colonial times, factions were considered both inevitable and dangerous (James Madison: Federalist No. 10.)
George Washington, in his farewell address, warned the country against formation of political parties.
first party system
Federalists, led by Hamilton,

Demo.- Republicans, led by Jefferson.

Early political parties did not exercise all of the functions now associated with parties.
  • Nomination of candidates began to emerge as a party function in the election of 1800.
Jefferson was elected president in 1800 and his party expanded in power.
  • From 1812 to the 1820s an Era of GoodFeeling prevailed in which there was only one party, the Democrats.
By 1820 the Federalists had ceased to exist, and by 1824 the Democratic-Republicans had split into factions seeking office within the party.
second party system
  • Involved what became the Democratic party and the Whig party.
  • The Democratic party originated in 1828 among southerners and westerners who supported Andrew Jackson.
The election of 1828 was the first mass election in our history, involving more than a million voters.
National conventions for selection of candidates and party platforms came into use by the early1830s.
1840 whig campaign poster
1840 Whig Campaign Poster
  • The Whigs were formed in 1834 to oppose President Andrew Jackson who they thought governed like a king.
The Democratic party suffered from public discontent over a financial crisis that occurred in the United States during the late 1830s. As a result, a Whig candidate, William Henry Harrison, won the presidency in 1840.
  • During Harrison’s campaign for president, the Whig party’s platform focused on restoring financial stability to the country, principally through the establishment of a national bank and a protective tariff on manufactured goods.
the present party system democrats and republicans
The Present Party System: Democrats and Republicans
  • By the 1850s the Whigs were divided into several wings and the Democrats were split between northern and southern wings. The present party system, featuring the Democratic and Republican parties, developed in the late 1850s.
  • The Whigs split over the issues of slavery and sectionalism and failed to offer a candidate in the presidential election of 1856.
In 1854 a new party – the Republicans – emerged.
  • The Republican party was formed in opposition to slavery.
  • The leader of this new party was Abraham Lincoln, who was elected president in 1860.
With the election of Lincoln and the Civil War, the Democratic party was not to win a presidential election again until 1884 with Grover Cleveland.
Cleveland was elected president again in 1892, but after that the Republicans controlled the presidency until 1912 . However, in the 1880s and 1890s new political factions emerged.

The largest of these factions was the Populist party with its firebrand orator William Jennings Bryan. In 1896 the Democrats nominated Bryan as their presidential candidate.


under the Progressive or Bull Moose party label but lost.

Shortly after the turn of the century Republican Theodore Roosevelt was elected president from 1901 to 1909. After sitting out from 1909 to 1912 Roosevelt ran again as a third party candidate

The Republican split of 1912 allowed a Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, to be elected president. He served two terms until 1920. Under Wilson America fought in World War I.
Wilson was followed in the presidency by two more Republicans, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. During Hoover's presidency America suffered a major stock market crash. This helped Democrat Franklin Roosevelt to win in 1932.
FDR was elected for an unprecedented four times to the presidency. He died shortly after the beginning of his fourth term. Vice president Harry Truman replaced him. It was Truman who approved use of the atomic bomb against Japan.
Truman was elected on his own as president in 1948 even though white Southern Democrats opposed him. In 1952 he was followed by former Army general Ike Eisenhower.
Eisenhower served two terms as president. In 1960 his vice president, Richard Nixon, and Massachusetts Senator Jack Kennedy were the party nominees. Kennedy narrowly won the election.
On November 22, 1963, JFK was assassinated in Dallas, TX. His successor was Lyndon B. Johnson, a Texan and long time Washington politician, having served in both houses of Congress.
LBJ was elected president in 1964 and could have run in 1968 but decided not to do so. This time Nixon, who was again the Republican nominee, was able to win the election.
Nixon was reelected in 1972 but resigned from office in August 1974 to avoid possible impeachment. His successor was Gerald Ford, who lost the bid for election in 1976 to Jimmy Carter.
President Carter had difficulty winning broad public support for his leadership. The Iranian hostage situation drained his efforts. He sought re-election but was defeated by Ronald Reagan.

His vice president, George Bush, succeeded him in office.

President Reagan promised to reduce the size of government. He took a hard line position at first toward Russia. In the end he failed to reduce government expenditures but did see Communism begin to crumble.

President Bush won high public approval ratings for the defeat of Iraq in Desert Storm but economic stalemate in the United States ultimately weakened his pubic support . He sought re-election but was defeated by Bill Clinton.
Clinton and his wife Hillary have both been under attack during his first and early second administration on numerous grounds. Yet he was re-elected in 1996 and had a good public approval rating.
Clinton’s vice-president, Al Gore received 48.4% of 105 million popular votes to Republican George W. Bush’s 47.9%.
  • Bush got 271 electoral votes to Gore’s 267.
    • Ralph Nader, a third party candidate, got 2.7% of the popular vote and cost Gore the election.
Three CRITICAL ELECTIONS and ELECTORAL REALIGNMENT--have marked the present party system.
  • In the election of 1860, the Republican party was dominant in the North, the Democrats in the South; and the parties alternated in control of Congress through 1894.
In the election of 1896, the Republicans became more closely allied with industrial interests in the populous East and Midwest and became the majority party in national politics.
In the election of 1932, the Democrats, led by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, forged a new national majority out of urban workers, middle-class liberals, European immigrants, and southerners
the american two party system
The American Two-party System
  • Not just two parties, in fact there have been many minor parties in American history.
  • Four types of minor parties.
    • Bolter.
    • Farmer-labor.
    • Ideological protest.
    • Single-issue.
    • Parties formed by factions that split from one of the major parties.
    • Progressives-1912; Dixiecrats -1948; George Wallace’s American Independent Party.
farmer laborer parties
represented people who felt that the working class was not getting its share of society's wealth.

Minnesota Farmer-Laborites; The Grange - 1880s; Populist Party - 1890s

Farmer-laborer parties
gift for the grangers
Gift for the Grangers
  • The Granger movement, led by a coalition of farmers, fought to improve the status of farmers and opposed the railroads' shipping and land use practices.
The movement was successful in getting a number of states to pass laws regulating railroads. These laws, known as Granger laws, were challenged in court, but a number of them were upheld by the Supreme Court.
ideological protest
Ideological Protest
  • Parties formed to promote a particular doctrine or attack the established system.
  • Socialists, Libertarians, etc.
single issue
  • Single issue parties were formed to promote one principle rather than a general philosophy of government.
Not very successful, but can have an impact on the major parties.

Green Party’s Ralph Nader in 2000

Act as Safety Valves.

characteristics of american parties
Characteristics of American Parties
  • Major Parties.
    • Broad electoral base.
    • Election oriented, not issue-oriented.
    • Decentralized.
Broad Electoral Base
    • Encourages resolution of conflicts.
    • Blurs issues.
    • Moderates positions on issues; weeds out extremists.
    • Encourages a pragmatic flexibility
    • No such thing as a national party.
    • Only loose coalitions of state parties that get together every four years to nominate a candidate for president.
    • Decentralization of political power is the most important single characteristic of the major American political party.
characteristics of minor parties
Characteristics of Minor Parties
  • Small electoral base.
  • Issue-oriented.
For several reasons, only two parties have alternated in power in the United states for more than 125 years.
  • Electoral System
    • Single winners
    • Simple plurality vote
Electoral College System
    • The importance of the presidency causes diverse groups across the nation to coalesce into the SAME two parties within each state.
  • Historical claim on voter loyalty
the federal basis of the party system
The Federal Basis of the Party System
  • Parties retain their strength in local areas because of the importance and durability of party identification.
Most Americans identify with one of the two major parties.
  • Refers to the voter's sense of psychological attachment to a party, which is not the same thing as voting for the party in a given election.

Voting is a behavior.

  • Identification is a state of mind.
Three significant points stand out from studies of party identification over time.

The number of Republicans and Democrats far exceeds the Independents in every year.

The number of Democrats consistently exceeds that of Republicans.

The number of Democrats has shrunk over time, to the benefit of both Republicans and Independents, and the three groups are now almost equal in size.

Analysis of party identification by seven social groupings in 2000 found that cultural factors, such as race and religion, have more effect on party preference than socioeconomic factors, which are more important than region. (See figure 8.5)
White Protestants are linked to the Republican party; minorities, Jews, and Catholics to the Democratic party.
  • People who are low in education, income, and occupational status tend toward the Democratic party.
  • Women are far more likely to be Democratic than are men.
differences in party ideology figure 8 6
Differences in Party Ideology, Figure 8.6
  • Contrary to what many people believe, the Democrats and Republicans differ considerably in political ideology.
  • The difference can be seen in the way voters and activists of both parties classify themselves on a liberal-conservative continuum.
Republican identifiers are more likely to be conservative than Democratic identifiers.
  • Republican and Democratic activists divide even more clearly along liberal and conservative lines.
Another way to see ideological differences between the parties is to analyze their party platforms.
  • The 2000 Republican platform stressed issues of morality, but was much more moderate than the 1996 platform.
  • The 2000 Democratic platform stressed equality.
More votes in Congress are being cast along party lines.
  • Still, Americans are more likely to call themselves “independent” which suggests that though the parties as organizations are enjoying a period of resurgence, fewer Americans are developing the strong party identifications necessary to insure their continued health.
national party organization
  • American political parties are decentralized and loosely organized.
  • Party structure is a system of layers of organization.
  • Each successive layer-county or city, state, national-has an independent concern about elections in its geographical jurisdiction.

State Party


State Party


State Party


National Party


District Party


District Party


Local Party


Local Party


the national party convention
The National Party Convention
  • Meets every four years
  • Adopts a national party platform
  • Nominates presidential and vice presidential candidates
  • Elects new national party chairperson (on recommendation of the presidential nominee)

The national convention formally "elects" the members of the national committee, but in fact it simply ratifies the choices of each state.

methods for selection of national committee members
Methods for Selection of National Committee Members
  • By state party convention
  • By the state delegation to the national convention
  • By state committees, or
  • By primary elections
democratic national committee
Democratic National Committee
  • One man/one woman from each state, D.C., Puerto Rico, other territories, 200 other members selected by formula and 65 at-large.
  • Includes Congressmen, Governors, mayors, county officials, youth and women.
  • 434 total.
republican national committee
  • All state party chairmen, one man/one woman from each state, D.C., and the territories.
  • 165 total
Both parties national committees meet only twice a year.
  • Between elections, the chief functions of the national committee staff are public relations, patronage, research, and fund-raising.
congressional party organizations
Congressional Party Organizations
  • Both parties have internal commit-tees or caucuses for nominating or electing their respective chamber and party leaders.
  • In addition each party in each house has a campaign committee for raising and distributing campaign funds to candidates from their party.
principles of responsible party government
  • Parties should present clear and coherent programs to voters.
  • Voters should choose candidates according to the party programs.
  • The winning party should carry out its program once it is in office.
  • Voters should hold the governing party responsible at the next election for executing its program.
Principles one and three are being met by the parties.
  • Voters are not fulfilling principles two and four.
texas party structure
Texas’ Party Structure
  • Temporary Organizations
    • Precinct conventions
    • County conventions
    • State conventions
precinct conventions
Precinct Conventions
  • To attend, all you need to do is vote in your party’s primary earlier in the day.
  • Most important function is to elect delegates to the county or senatorial district convention.
  • May also adopt resolutions.
county senatorial conventions
County/Senatorial Conventions
  • Select delegates to the state convention.
  • Adopt resolutions to be presented to the state convention
state convention
State Convention
  • Elect state party officers.
  • Elect 62 members of the State Executive Committee.
  • Adopt a party platform.
  • Certify primary election results to the Secretary of State.
state convention in presidential election years
State Convention in Presidential Election Years
  • Elect nominees to the national committee of the party.
  • Select Texas’ 32 presidential electors.
  • Elect delegates to the national party convention.

Permanent Organizations

    • Precinct chairman
    • County chair/County executive committee
    • State executive committee
precinct chairman
Precinct Chairman
  • Elected in the primary for a 2 year term.
  • Party organizer in the precinct.
  • Arranges and serves as the temporary chair of the precinct convention.
county chairman and county executive committee
County Chairman and County Executive Committee.
  • County chair elected in primary for a 2 year term.
  • Presides over the County Executive Committee.
  • Together, they administer the primary election on a county basis.
state executive committee
State Executive Committee
  • State chair chosen for 2 year term at state convention.
  • Determine the site for the next convention.
  • Canvass the primary returns.