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GOVT. Chapter 7 Political Parties. Learning Objectives. A Short History of American Political Parties. The First Political Parties. The Federalists and the Anti-Federalists were formed even before the Constitution was ratified.

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Chapter 7

Political Parties

The first political parties
The First Political Parties

  • The Federalists and the Anti-Federalists were formed even before the Constitution was ratified.

  • The Federalists pushed for ratification because they wanted a stronger national government.

  • The Anti-Federalists argued against ratification; they supported states’ rights and feared a too-powerful national government.

From 1796 to 1860
From 1796 to 1860

  • The nation’s first two parties clashed openly in the elections of 1796, in which John Adams, the Federalists’ candidate for president, defeated Thomas Jefferson, the Republican Party Candidate.

  • In the presidential elections of 1800 and 1804, Jefferson won the presidency, and his party also won control of Congress.

  • In the mid-1820’s, the Republicans split into two groups – the Democrats and the National Republicans (later the Whig Party).

From 1796 to 1860 cont
From 1796 to 1860, cont.

  • As the Whigs and Democrats competed for the White House throughout the 1840’s and 1850’s, the two-party system as we know it today emerged.

  • By the mid 1850’s, the Whig coalition had fallen apart, and most northern Whigs were absorbed into the new Republican Party, which opposed the extension of slavery into new territories.

  • On this platform, the Republicans succeeded in electing Abraham Lincoln as the first Republican president in 1860.

From the civil war to the great depression
From the Civil War to the Great Depression

  • In the 1890’s, the Republicans gained an advantage when the Democrats allied themselves with the Populist movement, which consisted largely of indebted farmers in the West and South. The Populist movement advocated inflation as a way of lessening their debts. Urban workers in the Midwest and East strongly opposed this program.

  • After the election of 1896, the Republicans established themselves as the party that knew how to manage the nation’s economy.

  • As a result of a Republican split, the Democrats under Woodrow Wilson won power from 1912 to 1920.

After the great depression
After the Great Depression

  • The Great Depression of the 1930’s destroyed the image of the Republicans as better able to manage the economy and contributed to a realignment of the two-party system.

    • In a realignment, the popular support for and relative strength of the parties shift.

  • The landmark realigning election of 1932 brought Franklin D. Roosevelt to the presidency and the Democrats back to power at the national level.

After the great depression a civil rights plank
After the Great Depression: A Civil Rights Plank

  • Until the 1930’s, African Americans had been overwhelmingly Republican, but those who joined the Democrats during Roosevelt’s New Deal included a substantial share of African Americans.

  • In 1948, for the first time ever, the Democrats adopted a civil rights plank as part of the party platform at their national convention.

  • In 1964, the Democrats won a landslide victory, and liberals held a majority in Congress.

After the great depression a rolling realignment
After the Great Depression: A “Rolling Realignment”

  • Conservative Democrats did not like the direction in which their party seemed to be taking them. Over a period of years, most of them became Republican voters.

  • Republican president Ronald Reagan helped cement the new Republican coalition.

  • The Democrats continued to hold majorities in the House and Senate until 1994, but during the 1970’s and 1980’s, a large bloc of Democrats in Congress, mostly from the South, sided with the Republicans on almost all issues.

Red states versus blue states
Red States versus Blue States

  • Beginning with the presidential elections of 2000, the press has made much of the supposed cultural differences between the “blue” states that vote for the Democratic candidate, and the “red” states that vote for the Republican.

2008 Presidential Election Results

Red states versus blue states cont
Red States versus Blue States, cont.

  • In this map of Ohio from the 2008 elections, most of Ohio is red, because McCain carried almost all of the rural parts of the state.

  • The Obama counties had larger populations – the more urban the county, the more likely it was to vote Democratic.

A changing electorate
A Changing Electorate?

  • In recent years, polls on party identification showed about a third of voters identified themselves as Democrats, a third as Republicans, and a third as independents.

    • The number of independents leaning toward Democrats and the number leaning toward Republicans was about the same.

  • A poll taken in 2008, however, found that 51% of those surveyed identified with or leaned toward the Democratic Party, while only 37% identified with or leaned toward the Republican Party.

The 2008 elections
The 2008 Elections

  • New York senator Hillary Clinton was the initial Democratic presidential favorite, but by March 2008, she had fallen behind the well-organized and well-funded campaign of Illinois senator Barack Obama.

  • Leading Republicans included Arizona senator John McCain and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

The 2008 elections cont
The 2008 Elections, cont.

  • The hurricane that swept through the financial world after September 15 doomed McCain’s presidency and made many voters question basic Republican philosophies. Obama argued that the crisis was due to the anti-regulation policies of the Republicans.

  • With almost 53% of the popular vote, Obama won the strongest personal mandate of any Democrat in a generation.

Selecting candidates
Selecting Candidates

  • One of the most important functions of the two political parties is to recruit and nominate candidates for political office.

  • They accomplish this by use of the primary, which is a preliminary election to choose a party’s final candidate.

  • This candidate then runs against the opposing party’s candidate in the general election.

Informing the public
Informing the Public

  • Political parties help educate the public about important current political issues.

  • Each party presents its view of these issues through television announcements, newspaper articles or ads, Web site materials, campaign speeches, rallies, debates and leaflets.

Coordinating policymaking
Coordinating Policymaking

  • The political party is usually the major institution though which the executive and legislative branches cooperate with each other.

  • The president works through party leaders in Congress to promote the administration’s legislative program.

  • Parties also act as the glue of our federal structure by connecting the various levels of government, state and national, with a common bond.

Checking the power of the governing party
Checking the Power of the Governing Party

  • The party with fewer members in the legislature is the minority party.

  • The party with the most members is the majority party.

  • The minority party, or the “out party,” does what it can to influence the “in party” and its policies, and to check the actions of the party in power.

  • The out party will also work to inform the voters of the shortcomings of the in party’s agenda and to plan strategies for winning the next election.

Balancing competing interests
Balancing Competing Interests

  • Political parties are essentially coalitions – individuals and groups with a variety of interests and opinions who join together to support the party’s platform, or parts of it.

  • The role of party leaders is to adopt a broad enough view on issues that the various groups will not be alienated.

  • Parties help to unify, rather than divide, their members.

Running campaigns
Running Campaigns

  • Political parties take care of a large number of small and routine tasks that are essential to the smooth functioning of the electoral process.

  • They work at getting party members registered and conducting drives for new voters.

  • Sometimes, party volunteers staff the polling places.

The party in the electorate
The Party in the Electorate

  • The party in the electorate is the largest component, consisting of all of those people who describe themselves as Democrats or Republicans.

    • Party identifiers – those who identify themselves as being a member of a particular party.

    • Party activists – party members who choose to work for the party and even become candidates for office.

The party in the electorate why people join political parties
The Party in the Electorate: Why People Join Political Parties

  • People wish to express their solidarity, or mutual agreement, with the views of friends, loved ones, and other like-minded people.

  • People also join parties because they enjoy the excitement of politics.

  • Many believe they will benefit materially from joining a party, through better employment or personal career advancement (patronage).

  • Some join political parties because they wish to actively promote a set of ideals and principles that they feel are important to American politics and society.

The party organization
The Party Organization Parties

  • Each major party has a national organization with national, state, and local offices.

  • The party organizations include several levels of people who maintain the party’s strength between elections, make its rules, raise money, organize conventions, help with elections, and recruit candidates.

The party organization state and local
The Party Organization: State and Local Parties

  • State party organizations are built around a central committee and a chairperson.

  • The committee works to raise funds, recruit new party members, maintain a strong party organization, and help members running for state offices.

  • Generally, there is a local party organization for each district in which elective offices are to be filled.

The party organization national
The Party Organization: National Parties

  • The structure of each party includes four major elements:

    • The national convention

      • Held every four years during the summer before the presidential elections.

    • The national committee

      • The most important duties are to organize the next national convention and to plan how to obtain a party victory in the next presidential elections.

    • The national chairperson

      • Serves as administrative head of the national party.

    • The congressional campaign committee

      • Works to help reelect party members to Congress.

The party in government
The Party in Government Parties

  • Consists of all of the party’s candidates who have won elections and now hold public office.

  • The party in government helps to organize the government’s agenda by coaxing and convincing its own party members to vote for its policies.

Developing issues
Developing Issues Parties

  • When a political party wins the presidency or control of one or more chambers of Congress, it has the opportunity to carry out the party platform it developed at its national convention.

  • The platform represents the official party position on various issues, although not all party members nor all candidates are likely to share these positions exactly.

The self perpetuation of the two party system
The Self-Perpetuation of the Two-Party System Parties

  • One of the major reasons for the perpetuation of the two-party system is simply that there is no alternative.

  • Minor parties, called third parties, traditionally have found it extremely difficult to compete with the major parties for votes.

  • Reasons for this include election laws and institutional barriers.

The self perpetuation of the two party system election laws
The Self-Perpetuation of the Two-Party System: Election Laws Parties

  • In many states, the established major parties need relatively few signatures to place their candidates on the ballot, whereas a third party must get many more.

  • Both major parties receive federal funds for campaign expenses and their national conventions, while third parties receive federal funds only if they garner 5% of the vote, and receive the funds only after the election.

The self perpetuation of the two party system institutional barriers
The Self-Perpetuation of the Two-Party System: Institutional Barriers

  • One of the major institutional barriers is the winner-take-all feature of the electoral college system for electing the president. The winner of a state’s popular vote gets all of that state’s electoral votes.

  • Today, all federal and most state legislative districts are single-member districts, which means that voters elect one member from their district to the House of Representatives and to their state legislature.

  • Because third parties normally do not win elections, Americans tend not to vote for them or contribute to their campaigns.

Third parties in american politics
Third Parties in American Politics Barriers

  • These parties are as varied as the causes they represent, but all have one thing in common: their members and leaders want to challenge the major parties because they believe that certain needs and values are not being properly addressed.

  • Most fall into one of these general categories:

    • Issue-oriented parties

    • Ideological parties

    • Splinter or personality parties

Third parties in american politics cont
Third Parties in American Politics, cont. Barriers

  • An issue-oriented third party is formed to promote a particular cause or timely issue. Most fade into history. Some endure, however, when they expand beyond a single area of concern.

  • An ideological party supports a particular political doctrine or a set of beliefs.

Third parties in american politics cont1
Third Parties in American Politics, cont. Barriers

  • A splinter party develops out of a split within a major party. This split may be part of an attempt to elect a specific person. For example, when Theodore Roosevelt did not receive the Republican Party’s nomination in 1912, he created the Bull Moose Party to promote his candidacy.

The effects of third parties
The Effects of Third Parties Barriers

  • Third parties bring issues to the public’s attention. They have exposed and focused on unpopular or highly debated issues that major parties have preferred to ignore.

  • Third parties provide a voice for dissatisfied Americans. Those who are unhappy with the two major political parties can participate in American politics through third parties that reflect their opinions on political issues.

The effects of third parties1
The Effects of Third Parties Barriers

  • Third parties can affect the vote. Third parties have occasionally taken victory from one major party and given it to another, playing a “spoiler” role.

    • Some contend that Ralph Nader “spoiled” the chances of Al Gore in the 2000 elections because many of those who voted for Nader would have voted Democratic had Nader not been a candidate.

Politics on the web
Politics on the Web Barriers