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AP American Government: Chapter Eight: Elections and Campaigns

AP American Government: Chapter Eight: Elections and Campaigns

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Published by: irregularflowers on Jul 16, 2010
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Chapter 8: Elections and CampaignsI.Elections have two crucial phases—getting nominated and getting elected.A.In the US, getting nominated is often an individual decision. In Europe the process is morecollective.B.American political parties do play a role in determining the outcome of the final election, but eventhat role involves parties more as labels in the voters’ minds that as organizations that get out thevote.II.At one time parties played a much larger role in elections in the US than they now do. Until recently theydetermined or powerfully influenced who got nominated.A.In the past people were much more likely to vote a straight-party ticket than they are today.Presidential Versus Congressional CampaignsI.More voters participate in presidential than congressional campaigns, so presidential candidates must work harder and spend more.II.Presidential races are more competitive than those for the House of Representatives.
In the typical presidential race the winner gets less than 55 percent of the two-party vote; in thetypical House race, the incumbent wins with over 60% of the vote.III.A much smaller proportion of people vote in congressional races during off years than vote for president.The lower turnout means that candidates in congressional races must be appealing to the more motivatedand partisan voter.IV.Members of Congress can do things for their constituents that a president cannot.A.Presidents get little credit for direct improvements and must rely on the mass media tocommunicate with voters.V.A candidate for congress can deny that he is responsible for the “mess in Washington” because they tend torun as individuals.A.These factors probably help explain why so high a percentage of congressional incumbents getreelected.VI.Members of Congress who belong to the same party as the president often feel voters’ anger about nationalaffairs, particularly economic conditions.
At one time the coattails of a popular presidential candidate could help congressional candidates if they belonged to the same party. But there has been a sharp decline in the value of the presidentialcoattails.VII.The net effect of all these factors is that, to a substantial degree, congressional elections have becomeindependent of presidential ones. This fact further reduces the meaning of party.Running for PresidentI.The first task facing anyone who wishes to be president is to get “mentioned” as someone who is of “presidential caliber.”A.One way to accomplish this is to make statements to reports about running for president. Another is to travel around the country making speeches. Another way to get mentioned is to be connectedto a major piece of legislation. Another is to be a governor of a big state.II.The running and campaigning process is very long.A.One reason that running takes so much time is that it takes so long to raise the necessary moneyand build up an organization of personal followers.
A political action committee, which is a committee set up by and representing a corporation, labor union, or other special interest group, can donate up to $5000 to a presidential candidate.III.Raising and accounting money requires a staff of fund-raisers, lawyers, and accountants. Volunteers andother employees are also necessary.A.Advisors write “position papers” on different topics. Because campaigns are usually wagedaround a few broad themes, these position papers rarely get used. They are made only to expresswhat the candidate’s positions are to various interests and observers.IV.Every candidate picks a strategy for the campaign. Incumbents must defend their records. The challenger attacks the incumbent.A.Candidates must consider the tone of their campaign. They must decide whether they want to build themselves up or attack the opposition.B.Theme is also important. A theme is a simple appealing idea that can be repeated.
C.Timing is another important factor. Unknown candidates must advertize themselves early in thecampaign and try to emerge as a front-runner.D.Candidates must decide who to target. They must predict who is likely to change their vote.Getting Elected to CongressI.Since 1962, over 90% of the House incumbents who sought reelection won it.II.Who serves in Congress, and what interests are represented there, is affected by how its members areelected.A.Each state is entitled to two senators, who serve six-year terms, and at least one representative,who serves a two-year term.B.How many representatives a state has depends on its population: what local groups theserepresentatives speak for depends in part on how the district lines are drawn.C.Congress decides how many representatives each state has.III.Initially some states did not create congressional districts; all of their representatives were elected at large.In other states representatives were elected from multi-member as well as single-member districts.A.In time all states with more than one representative elected each from a single-member district.How those district boundaries were drawn could profoundly affect the outcomes of elections.
There are two problems. One is malapportionment, which results from having districts of unequalsize.
The other problem is gerrymandering, which means drawing a district boundary in some bizarreor unusual shape to make it easy for a candidate of one party to win that election.IV.There are four problems to solve in deciding who gets represented in the House: establishing the total sizeof the House, allocating seats in the House among the states, determining the size of congressional districtswithin the size, determining the shape of those districts.A.Congress has decided the answers for the first two questions, and the states the second two.B.In 1911 Congress decided that the House was big enough and decided to fix its numbers at 435.Once the size was determined, it was necessary to find a formula for apportioning seats among thestates as they gained or lost population.C.The states did little about malapportionment and gerrymandering until ordered to do so by theSupreme Court. In 1964 the Court ruled that the Constitution requires that districts be drawn sothat, as nearly as possible, one person’s vote would be worth as much as another’s.V.A candidate wins a party’s nomination by gathering enough voter signatures to get on the ballot in a primary election. Candidates tend to form organizations of personal followings and win “their party’s”nomination simply by getting more primary votes than the next candidate.A.Parties have little opportunity to control or punish their congressional members.
Most newly elected members become strong in their districts very quickly: this is called the sophomoresurge. It is the difference between the votes candidates get the first time they are elected and the votes theyget when they run for reelection.A.The reason for this surge is that members of Congress have figured out how to use their offices torun personal rather than party campaigns. They cater to their constituent’s distrust of the federalgovernment.B.Members of Congress have great freedom in voting on personal issues and have less need toexplain away votes that their constituents might not like.VII.The way people get elected to Congress has two important effects. First, it produces legislators who areclosely tied to local concerns, and second, it ensures that party leaders will have relatively weak influenceover them.VIII.The local orientation of legislators has some important effects on how policy is made. For example, every member of Congress organizes his office to do as much as possible for people back home.If your representative serves on a particular committee, you are more likely to get benefits from thatcommittee.A.In the view of some, members of Congress should do what is best for the nation as a whole. Thisargument is about the role of legislators: are they supposed to be delegates who do what their district wants or trustees who use their best judgment on issues without regard to the preferencesof their district.B.Delegates tend to value getting reelected more than anything else and seek out committeeassignments and projects that will benefit their district. Trustees will seek out committee
assignments that give them a chance to address large questions that may have no implication for their district.Primary Versus General CampaignsI.Each election attracts a different mix of voters, workers, and media attention. What works in the primaryelection may not work in the general one, and vice versa.II.To win the nomination, one must mobilize political activists who will give money, do volunteer work, andattend local caucuses. To motivate these activists one must be more liberal in tone and theme than normalDemocrats or more conservative than average Republicans.A.This means that politicians must sound more radical in areas where their party is in the minority toinspire activists, but then must sound more moderate to the state as a whole. This problem existsin any state where activists are more ideologically polarized than the average voter. To get activistsupport for the nomination, candidates move to the ideological extremes; to win the election, theytry to move back to the center.III.Occasionally even the voters in the primary elections will be more extreme ideologically than are thegeneral-election voters.A.Even when primary voters are not too different from general-election voters, the activists whocontribute the time, money, and effort to mount a campaign a very different from voters.Two Kinds of Campaign Issues
In election campaigns there are two different kinds of issues. A position issue is one in which the rivalcandidates have opposing views on a question that also divides the voters.
Sometimes voters are not divided on important issues. Instead the question is whether a candidatefully supports the public’s views on a matter about which nearly everyone agrees. These are calledvalence issues. What voters look for on valence issues is which candidate seems most closelylinked to a universally shared view. Valence issues are quite common.II.Campaigns have usually combined both position and valence questions, but the latter have increased inimportance in recent years. This has happened in part because presidential campaigns are now conductedlargely on television, where it is important to project popular symbols and manipulate widely admiredimages.Television, Debates, and Direct MailI.Increasingly presidential and senatorial candidates use broadcasting.II.There are two ways to use television—by running paid advertisements and by getting on nightly news broadcasts.A.The effect of television advertising on general elections is probably a good deal less than its effecton primaries. This is because in a general election, especially one for a high-visibility office, theaverage voter has many sources of information.B.Campaign managers will strive to have their candidate do something visually interesting everyday. Great pains are taken to schedule these visuals at times and in places that make it easy for  photographers to be present.C.Televised debates are also very important.III.Commercials tend to have more information and generate a larger reaction than news appearances.IV.Though TV visuals and debates are free, they can also be risky. The risk is the slip of the tongue.A.Because of the fear of a slip, because the voters do not want to hear a long, fact-filled speechesabout complex issues, and because general-election campaigns are fights to attract the centristvoter, the candidates will rely on a stock speech that sets out the campaign theme as well as ontheir ability to string together memorable lines.V.Candidates make use of the internet for direct-mail campaigns, which can target specific groups of votersto whom specific views can be expressed with much less risk of offending someone.VI.Running campaigns has become divorced from the process of governing. Previously the party leaders whoran the campaigns would take part in the government once it was elected, and since they were partyleaders, they had to worry about getting their candidate reelected.A.Modern political consultants take no responsibility for governing, and by the time the nextelection arrives, they may be working for someone else.MoneyI.Money is important in politics, but it is not obvious that the candidates with the most money always win or that donors of the money buy big favors in exchange for their donations.

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