Lecture Political Parties Political Parties Introduction What are Political Parties? Political parties are organized groups that attempt to influence the government by electing their members to important government offices, thereby controlling government. The Two Party System in the United States. The two party system (a political system in which only two political parties have a realistic opportunity to compete effectively for control) has dominated
American politics, although which particular parties were in competition has changed over time, culminating with todays Democrats and Republican parties form in one of two ways: 1. Party formation by internal mobilization, which occurs when conflict breaks out and public officials seek to mobilize popular support. 2. Party formation by external mobilization, occurring when politicians outside government seek popular support to win governmental power.
The Electoral System In the United States, a candidate wins the election by gaining a plurality, or more votes than any other candidate. This is a winner-take-all system because there is no reward for the party or candidate that finishes second. Parties aim to be as large as possible, smoothing over differences among candidates and voters.
There is no incentive to form a party that consistently gets votes but cannot win an election. As a result, two political parties usually dominate plurality electoral systems to the disadvantage of smaller third parties, just as the Democrats and the Republicans dominate the American political system. No one person or organization prevents third parties from forming, but the plurality system itself usually hinders their efforts to win votes.
Party Systems The United States political parties compete with one another over offices, policies, and power, and the history of each party is linked to that of its major rival. The term party system to a number of parties competing for power, the organization of the parties, the balance of power, between and within coalitions, the parties social and institutional bases, and the issues and policies around which party competition is organized. In 1790, the first party system emerged and pitted the
Federalists against the Jeffersonian Republicans. The Federalists supported mercantilism tariffs, assumption of the states revolutionary war debts, creation of a national bank, and resumption of commercial ties with Britain. The Jeffersonians promoted agrarian interests, free trade, and friendship with France. Current Party System: Democrats vs. Republicans
The Democrats were a majority party until the 1980s, when it faced serious problems. The solid southern vote has been lost to the Republicans, but the party gained African American and womens votes. After the 1990s, Congress was mostly under Republican control. Clintons strategy of pursuing a moderate course between Republicans and Democrats took back both houses of Congress in 2006, they have been more vocal in their opposition to Republican national domestic policies and have been more united as a party than in the past. In 1994, the Republican Party took control of both congressional houses for
the first time in four decades. However, tension between the religious right, concerned with opposition to abortion and support for school prayer, and the traditional country club Republicans, concerned with economic matters, led to conflict. President George W. Bush sought to end conflict by uniting his party around such core Republican values as tax cuts, education reform, military strength, and family values. Public disapproval of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq led to the Republicans to control of both houses of Congress in 2006.
American Third Parties Although the United States is defined as a two party system, it has always had some third parties (parties that organize to compete against the two major American political parties, giving voice to issues unattended by the major parties). Important third parties and independents include the Populists, the Progressives, and independents such as Ross
Perot (Reform Party), Ralph Nader (Green Party). Some third parties have enjoyed an influence far beyond their electoral size, as did the Progressives, who were later absorbed by the Democrats. This is because large parts of these third parties programs were adopted by one or both of the major parties, which sought to appeal to voters mobilized by the new party. Interesting Political Parties
U.S. Marijuana Party American Beer Drinkers Party Being Human Party Christian Liberty Party National Socialist Movement U.S. Pacifist Party Parties and the Electorate Parties are made up of millions of rank and file members.
Individuals develop party identification (an individual voters psychological ties to one party or another) with the party that reflects their interests. Recently, American partisan ties have declined; but Americans continue to identify with either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. Group Affiliations: Race and Ethnicity Gender Religion
Economic Class Political Ideology Geographical Region Age Parties and the Electorate Race and Ethnicity. Since the 1930s, African Americans have mostly identified with Democrats. In contrast, Latinos have not formed a monolithic bloc, although in recent elections the Latino vote has gone more heavily to Democrats. Asian Americans tend to be divided along class lines.
Gender. Women are somewhat more likely to support Democrats, and men are more likely to support Republicans. This difference is known as the gender gap, a distinctive pattern of voting behavior reflecting the differences in views between women and men. Religion. Jews are loyal Democrats. Catholics, once a strong pro Democratic group, have been shifting to the Republican Party because of moral issue positions on abortion, among other issues. Protestant fundamentalists are more likely to identify themselves as Republicans because of the partys conservative standards on social and moral issues. Class. Upper income Americans identify more with the Republican Party; lower income Americans are more likely to identify with Democrats. The divide reflects the parties differences
on economic issues. In the 1970s, many white working class voters started voting Republican. Ideology. Conservatives tend to identify with Republicans, whereas liberals support Democrats. This division has increased in recent years as the two parties have taken very different positions on social and economic issues. Region. Support for Democrats is clustered on the east and west coasts and the upper Midwest. Republicans enjoy support in the Mountain West, the Southwest, and the South. Age. The Democratic Party has drawn more support in recent years as compared to the Republican Party. However, the gap between Democratic and Republican affiliation is the biggest among younger voters (i.e., those born after 1977).
Party Organization Party Organization is the formal structure of a political party, including its leadership, election committees, active members, and paid staff. National Conventions National Committee Congressional Campaign Committee
State and Local Party Organizations Parties and Elections Parties important electoral roles include providing candidates for office, getting out the vote, and facilitating mass electoral choice. Recruiting Candidates Nominations Getting Out the Vote
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