PSC 311: Voters, Parties & Elections
1. Parties and Politics in America
2. The Party Battle in America
3. Characteristics of the American Party System
4. Party Organizations
5. Nominations for State and Congressional Offices
6. Presidential Nominating Politics
7. The General Election: Regulation and Campaign Strategy
8. Political Parties and the Voters
9. Parties in the Government
10. A Concluding Note: American Parties-Distinctive, Durable, Adaptive, and Useful
-American parties began with the policy conflict between Hamilton and Jefferson during the Washington administration. Hamilton’s Federalists opposed Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans in the First Party System. Historians agree that in the election of 1800, the aggressive organization of the Democratic-Republicans behind Jefferson contributed to his election over John Adams.
-The second party system involved Andrew Jackson running for re-election and winning in 1832 under the Democratic label. By 1834 opposition to Jackson coalesced to form the Whigs.
-During the next 15 years voter participation expanded and the two parties engaged in intense competition to reach the expanding electorate. Campaigning that included rallies, picnics, songs, and slogans attempted to create a partisan atmosphere.-Racial and slavery issues brought about a national divide between Northern and Southern factions that neither party could satisfy. Abolitionist sentiment raging against the institution of slavery brought about the Third Party System. The transition period toward two-party competition took place between 1854-1860.
-The Democrats were dominated by southerners who wished to maintain slavery and keep free and slave states balanced by carefully monitoring which states were admitted. The Republicans, though unsuccessful early on, gained strength by aligning with farmers through the Homestead Act and free land in the west.-The period following the civil war saw great growth in urban populations, corporations, and the economy in general. These economic and social revolutions led to radical agrarian movements that opposed the growth of corporations and led to third-party movements such as the People’s party (populist).
-Republicans also fought for veterans’ pensions and appealed to entrepreneurs through federal land grants. Moves such as these saw the development of patronage-based party organizations that were effective in mobilizing party votes.
-The election of 1896 saw William Jennings Bryan of the Democrats oppose Republican William McKinley. In this election both political parties used platforms that responded to third-party competition. (Populists wanted unlimited coinage of silver and gold, Democrats put this on the platform)
Post New Deal Era
During the mid to late 60’s:
-Partisanship declined and voters started identifying as independents
-Black voter participation increased and African Americans became affiliated with the Democratic party, resulting in Democrat candidates endorsing civil rights legislation
-Support for Democrats declined among blue-collar workers and Catholics, traditional support groups
-These actions led to a candidate-centered party system in which neither the Republicans nor Democrats were a true majority, voters were guided by candidate appeal. Other indicators of weakening party ties included unusually strong third party candidates and independents (George Wallace winning 13.5% of the vote, Ross Perot)
-Split tickets are now commonplace, and parties now mainly provide services and money to the candidateMinor Parties
-American Party (Know Nothing) An anti-immigrant and anti-catholic party achieved electoral success at state levels in 1854
-People’s Party (Populist) Called for 8-hour workdays, free coinage of silver, and government ownership of railroads. Captured control of the Democratic National Convention in 1896 and nominated William Jennings Bryan.
-Nader’s Green Party Environmentally focused candidate who was an advocate of expanded social programs in the 2000 election, he possibly took enough votes from Al Gore (2.7% of popular vote) to sway the election
Ross Perot The texas billionaire who used his fortune to capture 18.9% of the popular vote by running his campaign around the dangers of a huge federal budget deficit.
-Third party candidates usually do not take many votes but often force the issues they are concerned with into the limelight (The populist’s free coinage of silver adopted by William Jennings Bryan)
Two-Party Competition with Variations
o Party Competition at the National LevelThe Presidency
o Party Competition at the State LevelVoting Strength
o Variations in Levels for Competition for Different OfficesStatewide Elections
o The Impact of the ConstitutionSeparation of Powers
o The Impact of Nomination and Campaign PracticesNominations in States
o Some Countertrends: Nationalizing InfluencesImpact of National Trends of State Voting Patterns
o Social Class in Relation to Voting PatternsNonprogrammatic Parties
o Diversity within both American Political Parties
o Interest of Parties in PolicyQuasi-Public Institutions with Ambiguous Membership
o Indecisiveness of both American Political Parties
o Western European Parties verses United States PartiesWeak Parties, but Substantial Partisan Influence
o The Inability of Parties to run Internal Affairs as They See Fit
o Features of the American Party System
o Influence of the American Political Parties
* The type of organization operating in any political jurisdiction depends on 6 factors:
1. The level of government involved* American political party organizations are cadre parties — a small number of leaders and activists who maintain the organization, recruit candidates, seek to influence nominations, and campaign for the party’s nominees.
2. The type of governmental regulations under which it must operate
3. The extent of interparty competition that exists
4. The clientele or bases of party support
5. Regional and local traditions
6. The nature of the electorate
* Cadre type party structure is based on the set of interlocking national party rules, state and federal statutes, and state and local party rules.* The layered organizational structure of American parties is called Stratarchy, an organization with layers of control rather than centralized leadership from the top down.
* Party organization is built around geographic election districts.
* Eldersveld notes that “a special component of stratarchy is reciprocal deference—between the layers of organization “there is a tolerance of autonomy, of each layer’s status and its right to initiative, as well as tolerance of inertia.”* After the BCRA (Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, 2002), national parties raised more hard money, transfers to state parties declined, state parties did not advertise, and parties continued to make strategic transfers. [McCain-Feingold Act]
* The party organization is a network that extends beyond the regular and legally constituted party structure to include candidate organizations, party-allied groups, and campaign consultants.
* National Committees began in the mid-1800s and gradually became more institutionalized. Since 1950, the size of the DNC staff has never dipped below 40 people, and the RNC has exceeded eighty.
* Only the national committee represents the 50 states plus ex officio rep. for important elected officials and organized interests. They meet only twice a year.
* In 1974 the DNC abandoned the principle of state equality in favor for representation that took into account population of the state and its record of support for Democratic candidates. The DNC also has active caucuses for minorities and women.The RNC has not changed from state equality and a confederate party system.* Repub. & Demo. Rules require that the National Chair serve on a full-time basis, preventing senators and representatives from becoming chairs. Two roles of national chairs—party spokesperson and organizational leaders.*Out-party chairs have more flexibility and independent influence on their party. In-party chairs do not, because they serve at the pleasure of the president and operatives in the White House.
* Because of regulations, campaign committees (for the House and Senate by the parties) can only give a small amount directly to the candidates. They spend money on coordinated expenditures, which are in support of their candidates, and consist of polls and commercials, etc. They also encourage acceptance of PAC money.* Most states regulate party membership, organizational structure, access to the general election ballot, methods of nomination, and campaign finance—there is variation between the states however.
* Because of size and infrequent meetings, many state parties rely on an executive committee to carry out state committee functions between meetings.* State parties evolved—capable of helping candidates and local parties—by establishing a permanent headquarters, gaining professional leadership and staffing, obtaining adequate budgets, and forming programs to maintain the organization, support candidates and officeholders, and assist local party units.
* Most state chairs are elected by the state committee, some are chosen by state party conventions. The governor’s role in party affairs is mostly advisory rather than controlling. The governor and state chair consult on appointments, candidate recruitments, fund-raising, and other major party activities.
* Repubs. Tend to have more professional and better-financed state organizations than Democrats. And the south has the strongest state party organizations.
* State legislative campaign committees are modeled like national congressional and senatorial campaign committees (composed of incumbent legislators who raise funds and hire staff to assist their parties’ legislative candidates).
* Urban machines have mostly faded because of the Australian (secret) Ballot, the party primary, and civil service reform.
* Most county parties are not bureaucratic or heirachically run organizations; their workers are part-time volunteers—have no permanent headquarters or paid staff, activity is concentrated around campaign season.
* A strong party organization can provide the infrastructure candidates and activists to continue the battle in the face of short-term defeats and enduring minority statues and to take advantage of favorable circumstances when they arise.
* Party activists participate because of patronage and preferments, chance of running for elective office, the social benefits, and because of issues and ideology.
* Increasing involvement and influence of issue-oriented activists within the parties has caused conflicts between office holders and party organizations.
-Bibby begins by stating that since 1968 there
have been fundamental changes in nominating politics.
It was once a process dominated by powerful party leaders, and now it is predominantly candidate oriented
-Now with the expansion of national television, the media has a far reaching influence on who will win the nomination.
-National nominating conventions are held in the summer of election years, and they are the final product of a long campaigning season.
There are 3 principle methods of candidate selection
1. The presidential primary
2. The party/caucus convention process
3. Automatic selection by virtue of the party or by an elected position that the
-The individual states decide how their delegates will be selected; however, state delegate selection must conform to National Party Rules.
-The largest share of convention delegates is chosen through procedures that involve presidential primaries.
-State Party Caucuses and Conventions
Until 1972, a majority of the states used the caucus system. The difference between a primary and a caucus, is that in a primary the candidates are chosen by a popular vote, and in the caucus system, only party leaders and activists participate in the elections.
In the caucus system, candidates are chosen by party leaders w/ series of meetings.
Today the nomination process is a lengthy, time and money consuming task.
There are 4 main phases
-Phase 1- Laying the Groundwork "The invisible primary", During the midterm elections, the nomination process accelerates into a higher gear. It is at this point that candidates must start focusing heavily on fund raising and Television spots. ["Money primary" -- JRTL]Campaign Finance
-Phase 2- Delegate selection and the effects of Front Loading, The early stages of the primary are important for candidates to gain popularity and recognition, by being the front runner. The Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary are usually the first two delegate contests, and in nomination folklore, they are pivotal in gaining momentum for the long race. ["Winnowing phase"]
-Phase 3- Delegate selection, the later contests, The rest of the primaries after the first few are not as important, but a late surge is possible ["Consolidation phase" -- JRTL]
-Phase 4- The Convention, the convention has become largely just a formality after a hard fought battle with the primaries and caucuses. ["ratification or coronation phase" -- JRTL]
- It said that a candidate must raise at least $250 from 20 states, up to $5,000. They must abide by an overall expenditure limit at the national level which in 2000 was $33.8 million. They must also abide by state expenditure limits based on a formula of $.16 cents per voter.With these serious limitations placed, the campaign process and fundraising has become much longer. Because of the restrictions at the state and national level, the campaign has become very centralized and led to highly publicly funded campaigns.
-Only individual donations of up to $ 1,000 can be accepted.
-Participation in the general election is always greater than the participation in the primaries. Although since the primary system has become popular, there has been an increased number of people participating, culminating in 2000 at an all time high of 31.2 million people.Comparing the American system to that of the British one
- Bibby explains that the media has an ever increasing role in the nomination process, for the simple fact that they must make decisions about which candidates to give more time and attention to.
1. Party leaders entered politics at an early age and served many years before becoming a leader. [Till 1997 -- now leaders younger, better looking on TV. -- JRTL]In the United States
2. Party leaders served in many different national offices
3.The leaders were voted on by their fellow politicians only. [Annual elections, 1965-. Electoral colleges across party, 1990s. -- JRTL]
4. The campaigns are short, with little wear and tear on the candidates.
5. The cost of the campaigns is low. [But growing in last decade, contribution scandals in parties. -- JRTL]
6. The process of selecting leaders was entirely done by the party
1. Candidates sometimes have never served in a national office.-The post 1968 reforms have served to widen the differences between the British and American systems.
2. Candidates are voted on by voters in primaries in the majority of cases.
3. The nominating campaigns are very long and cause enormous wear and tear on the candidates.
4. The cost of campaigns is the highest in the world.
5. The process is definitely not exclusively a party affair.
Republicans and Democrats have dominated
America’s 2 party system, on both national and state levels. One
consistent pattern is
partisanship in American politics.
Presidents effect national appointees, just as Governors effect state-level appointees; they do not, however, have a final say in who gets each position.
A favor is obviously shown within the leader’s party, but this is not always consistent. A leader may reach out to the other party by nominating and appointing opposing parties into positions. This is Bibby’s “separation of party governments.” Neither the President nor Congress has distinct power over the other or appointees in general.
President as Party Leader
The President must assert dominance over the party and its organization. He doesn’t have an official role in the party, but his influence is always followed in such things as selecting the party chair, setting policy, etc. As of recent Presidencies, a direct link is seen between the party’s national chairman & the President’s preference.
In return, the party acts as a tool for fundraising, setting a platform, recruiting candidates, registering voters, and often advertising. They also work under White House aides to help with the President’s political interests. In the past, the National Parties had a larger role: chairmen would serve as re-election campaign managers, and even handle such jobs as postmaster, spokesman, etc. This is changing, as the Federal Election Campaign Act encourages the separation of national party and campaign team. Campaigns can now better fundraise via soft money/smaller donations, rather than taking the party allotted salary alone.
Party, President, and Congress
President shares powers with Congress- even international relations & national security. Neither President nor his Congress feels that they got in their place because of the clout of the other position. Even “presidential coattails” are dwindling.
The Presidency is hierarchal and can deter from a comprehensive, consistent character; Congress is more decentralized, with committees and sub-committees, which yield a narrower, more thorough interest. This also reflects visibility and accountability to voters, as the President is held more accountable than congressmen on issues and in reelection campaigns.
On legislation, party affiliation matters more than anything. Even if a congressman supports a specific item, he may change his mind, depending on if his party controls the White House. Also, Congressmen sometimes shift as a party: i.e. Clinton needing Republican support for NAFTA. Also, Congressional-Presidential relations tend to work more cooperatively, regardless of party, when a national crisis occurs.
Party, President, and Executive Branch
Pres. must focus on his cabinet and agencies, b/c policy initiatives are developed and implemented at this level. In modern days, some say managing this branch is the most difficult, due to overlapping governmental concerns (agency to agency or federal to state). It is hard for this body to have one voice, as it becomes less centralized. To control this, many Presidents appoint fellow partisans to policy-making positions; this doesn’t assure faithfulness in ideology, however.
Party, President, and Judiciary
President indirectly affects the Judiciary, mainly by appointing Federal Judges (90% of nominees usually from Pres. Party). Presidents and Congress share power on appointments of federal district and court of appeals appointments. Supreme Court Justices are at the President’s discretion, and then are brought before the Senate for full approval (likely case in Bush’s 2nd term).
Parties in Congress
Congressmen more likely to change from the President’s party to opposing party, b/c there is no risk of losing the Executive power. Partisanship is questioned, but still apparent by a narrow margin of Congressional control change in each election, esp. since 1994.
Within Congress, it’s organized by partisan matters and very formal. The majority party decides what bills get introduced, control the proceedings, etc. Roll Call votes further prove party loyalty.
American government is heavily influenced
by the two parties, but not dominated by them. The looseness of the Party
System provides independence and flexibility in policymaking and day-to-day