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Political Party: A group of persons joined

together on the basis of common principles

who seek to control government the

winning of elections.
There are two major parties in American politics today: Democrats & Republicans Some argue this does not fit the American version the Democrats and Republicans are election oriented, not principle/issue oriented.

Political Parties & Their Functions

Some believe American politics would function better without political parties Others say political parties necessary for democratic government, but at the same time, do not trust them

Kind of a love-hate relationship

Distrust especially strong among younger voters

Why are Political Parties important? The are the major mechanisms behind broad policies and leadership choices. They act as a the voice of the governed and some argue that parties are how the will of the people are best expressed. Political parties bring conflicting groups together to find common ground. The soften extremist views and seek compromise and unity.

What Is a Political Party?

An organization that sponsors candidates for political office under the organizations name Use a nomination process
Democracies must have at least two political parties that regularly compete against each other

Party Coalitions Today

What Is a Political Party?

1) Nominating Candidates:
Political leadership requires certain qualities

The major function is to nominate, or name, candidates for public office and then they help them win their elections.
Parties can perform quality control by choosing candidates Recruiting and choosing candidates and gathering support for them.

2) Structuring the Voting Choice

Work to reduce number of candidates on ballot to those with chance of winning Loyal party voters provide predictable base of votes Third-party candidate success difficult

Choice between only two parties reduces information needed by voters


3) Informing and Activating Supporters:

Parties inform the people, spark their interest, inspire them, and get them to participate in public affairs. Voters are inspired to campaign for candidates, take stands on issues, and criticize opponents. Parties create campaign materials (buttons, posters, bumper stickers) and propaganda materials (pamphlets, TV, internet, newspaper and radio commercials, speeches, and rallies) to show their issues in the best light.

4) Proposing Alternative Government Programs

Parties set out general policies candidates will pursue if they gain office Candidates tend to support party positions, although exceptions occur Some party names advertise policies, such as the Green Party, Socialist Party, and Libertarian Party Americas two major parties have relatively neutral names

Acting as Watchdog: Parties act as watchdogs over the publics business. The party out of power usually takes this role by criticizing the party and behavior of the party in power (in the executive branch).

The party out of power tries to convince voters that they should throw the rascals out. The party out of power tried to become the voice of the people by expressing their concerns. They become the loyal opposition---- opposed to the party in power but loyal to the people!

Coordinating the Actions of Government Officials

U.S. governments separation of powers

divides responsibilities for policymaking

Political parties major bridge for bringing

the separate powers together to govern effectively


The Pre party Period

Constitution does not mention political parties Only factions, not parties, existed when Constitution written

Federalist No. 10 hoped federalist system would prevent factional influences

Factions of the time included Tories or Loyalists, Whigs or Patriots, Federalists, and Anti-Federalists


The Preparty Period

Elections vastly different from TODAY President and Vice President decided by electoral college Electors frequently met in private caucuses to propose candidates

George Washington opposed factional politics Because of neutrality, elected unanimously


The First Party System: Federalists and Democratic Republicans

Federalists led by Alexander Hamilton

Democratic Republicans led by Thomas Jefferson

Election of 1796 saw John Adams (a Federalist) elected president, with Thomas Jefferson(Dem.-Rep.) elected vice president In election of 1800, both parties nominated candidates for both president and vice president


Figure 8.1

The Two-Party System in American History


The Twelfth Amendment

Election of 1800 saw top two vote-getters from Democratic-Republican Party but tied in Electoral College! Eventually Jefferson elected president Ratification of 12th Amendment in 1804 split votes in Electoral College for president and vice president Democratic-Republicans won next four elections, then fell apart

The Second Party System: Democrats and Whigs

Jacksons faction of Democratic Republicans represented common people Preferred to be called Democrats Jackson ran for president in 1828; birth of todays Democratic Party Increase in suffrage rights led to voters choosing presidential electors Greater numbers voting required changes from existing parties

Party Changes

Major parties began having national conventions to select candidates and adopt party platforms First, Anti-Masonic Party in 1831; Democrats and National Republicans followed in 1832 Coalition of those opposing Jackson formed Whig Party in 1834 Democrats and Whigs alternated presidency for next 30 years


The Current Party System: Democrats and Republicans

Antislavery forces organized Republican Party in 1854 John Fremont presidential candidate in 1856; Abraham Lincoln in 1860 Election of 1860 first of four critical elections

Led to electoral realignment , with northern states voting Republican and southern states voting Democratic for decades

Eras of Party Dominance Since the Civil War

Democrats and Republicans major parties since 1860 election Two-party system Third parties rarely successful, except at state or local level Balance of power between two major parties different in various parts of country and at different times

Four Political Eras Since Civil War

A Rough Balance: 1860-1894 GOP (Grand Old Party, or Republicans) won eight of 10 presidential elections House and Senate wins balanced

A Republican Majority: 1896-1930 Democrats in trouble because of economic depression in 1896 Republican William McKinley won presidency; Republicans basically in power until Great Depression

William Jennings Bryan: When Candidates Were Orators


Four Political Eras Since Civil War

A Democratic Majority: 1932-1964

Voters unhappy with economic crisis swarmed to support Democratic candidate Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932
Roosevelt won election; Democratic party won majorities in both House and Senate A major electoral realignment

Four Political Eras Since Civil War

A Rough Balance: 1968 to the Present

Richard Nixons victory in 1968 a fourth critical election; Republican presidential candidates have done well since
Congressional elections in this period mixed: Democrats generally control House, Senate control split about evenly Party loyalty within regions has shifted; possible electoral dealignment

The American Two-Party System

While two parties dominant, third

parties make contributions also

Third parties usually one of four types:

Bolter parties Farmer-labor parties Parties of ideological protest Single-issue parties


Figure 8.2

Party Candidates for the U.S. House in the 2010 Election


Historical Third-Party Successes

Third parties not very successful Rarely receive more than 10% of the vote Bolter parties have won more than 10% twice Republican Party originated as single-issue third party Third parties have better record as policy advocates, and serve as safety valves


Four types of minor parties:

1)Ideological Parties:
Based on set of beliefs (social, economic, political)
e.g. socialist, socialist labor, socialist worker, communist Libertarians Party is non-socialist

Dont win many votes, but have been long lived.

2. Single-Issue Parties:
Concentrate on one public policy matter (usually short lived) Names indicate primary concern:

Free Soil Party- end expansion of slavery

Know Nothing Party (American Party) - opposed immigration, particularly of Irish Catholics Right to Life Party- opposes abortion

3. Economic Protest Parties:

No clear cut ideological base, unlike socialists which focus on economic issues
Focus on their enemies such as: Monetary system, Wall Street Bankers, railroad, foreign imports

Greenback Party: (1876-1884) appealed to

farmers- free silver, federal regulation of railroads, income tax, labor legislation

Populist Party: (1890s) public ownership of

railroad, telephone, and telephone. Wanted lower tariffs, adoption of initiative and referendum These parties often form in times of economic turmoil- also short lived

4. Splinter/BOLTER Parties:
Break away from major parties (usually short lived) Republican Splinters:

Bull Moose Progressive Party:

(1912) Theodore Roosevelt challenged Howard Tafts Republican nomination called for women's suffrage recall of judicial decisions easier amending the U.S. Constitution social welfare legislation for women and children, workers' compensation limited injunctions in strikes farm relief required health insurance in industry new inheritance taxes and income taxes

Republican Splinters:

Progressive Party: (1924)

Candidate Robert La Follette called for

government ownership of the railroads and electric utilities, cheap credit for farmers outlawing child labor stronger laws to help labor unions more protection of civil liberties

Democratic Splinters:
States Rights Dixiecrat Party: (1948) Led by Strom Thurmond advocated retention of Jim Crow laws racial segregation.

American Independent Party (1968) led by former Alabama Governor George Wallace who advocated A reversal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 opposed to federal government welfare programs.

One Party that does not fit into any category is the

Green Party USA (founded 1984).

Began as single issue party, but In 2000, Ralph Nadar accepted their endorsement as President and adopted a variety of issues: environmental protection universal health care gay rights restraints on corporate power campaign finance reform opposition to global free trade more

Why a Two-Party System?

U.S. two-party system results from electoral process and political socialization Elections based on majority representation, not proportional representation Major parties make election laws Presidential politics and persistence drive survival of Democratic and Republican parties


The Federal Basis of the Party System

Party identification important political concept Most people identify with one of the two major parties

Data show three tendencies:

Republicans and Democrats together outnumber Independents More Democrats than Republicans Democratic numbers shrinking over time

Figure 8.4

Distribution of Party Identification, 1952-2008


Party Identification
Party identification predisposes but does not mandate voting behavior Factors affecting party identification:

Income Religion Region Age

Education Gender Ethnicity

Parental party identification also important


Figure 8.5

Party Identification by Social Groups


Fewer Citizens Are Partying

Partisanship has declined since early

Also true in many other democracies
Reasons given include more education and political sophistication

Party Ideology and Organization

Significant differences in ideology between Republicans and Democrats Approaches to concepts of freedom, order, and equality affect spending priorities Differences drive party platforms Ideological differences more pronounced when looking at party activists


Figure 8.6

Ideologies of Party Voters and Party Delegates in 2008


National Party Organization

Some believe Republicans more organized as a party than Democrats Each party has four major organizational components: National convention National committee Congressional party conferences Congressional campaign committees

Building a Bigger Republican Tent?


National Party Organization

National parties not particularly powerful Do not direct or control presidential campaigns Beginning in 1970s, Democrats made procedural changes and Republicans made organizational reforms Both parties have made significant organizational changes in recent years

State and Local Party Organizations

At one time, both parties had powerful state and local party machines Individual organizations vary in size and strength
National parties supply funding, candidate training, poll data and research, and campaigning instruction


Decentralized but Growing Stronger

American parties one of most decentralized in the world

Even though party identification dropping, political party organizations growing stronger Still, not clear how well parties link voters to government

The Model of Responsible Party Government

Parties essential to making government responsive to public opinion in majoritarian model Parties should present clear and coherent programs to voters Voters should choose candidates based on party programs Winning party should carry out proposed programs Voters should hold governing party responsible for program execution at next election