American Political Parties (PowerPoint)

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					    American Political Parties

        The American Two Party

Political Party- A group of persons who seek to control government through the
                 winning of elections and the holding of public office.

Major party- The dominant political party(s) in a political system.

Minor Party- Any party other than the two dominant parties (in the U.S.)
      Types of party systems

Multi-Party- System in which there is no dominant party.

           As a result, no majority can be formed leading to coalition governments.
           Coalitions constantly shift to form new majorities leading to unstable
           government and public policy.
           Common in Europe

One Party system- Only one party regularly wins elections.
                  Really means no party.
                   Common in dictatorships and in democracies.
        Party Systems
One Party systems have existed throughout the United States.
Party Identification
Party Identification
        Party Identification
Trends in party loyalty point towards less loyalty and more independent voters.
Parties have also realigned themselves over a period of time.

Republican party has displaced the conservative democrats in the south.
After Kennedy and the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans and other minorities
gravitated to the Democratic party.

90% of African American voters voted for Gore and the Democratic party in 2000.

The 2004 election saw some other interesting trends
        Functions of political parties
   Despite the trend in independent voting, the major parties perform several
                          Political parties recruit qualified candidates and present
1. Nominating Function- them to us for our approval through primary elections.

                          The nominating function is what sets political parties
                          apart from interest groups.

                                  Parties take stands on issues, challenge one another
2. Inform/stimulator function-    for their views on issues and stimulate our interest
                                  and participation.
        Functions of Political Parties

3. Seal of Approval- The goal of a political party is to win. In order to win they
                     nominate candidates that are qualified.

                  We can be reasonably assured that major party candidates are
                  not too morally flawed and at least somewhat experienced.

                    If parties nominate unqualified candidates of low moral
                    character they will suffer at the polls.
         Function of Political Parties

4. The Governmental Function- The political parties staff the government at all levels
                              through the patronage process.
                                This serves as a training ground for future candidates.

                                 Political parties keep the branches of government
                                 organized and provide channels for the branches
                                 to work together.

5. Watchdog function-    Party out of power keeps watch over the in-power party in an
                         attempt to win office in future elections.
                         Parties share this function with the media.
        Functions of Political Parties
                         Rather than dividing the electorate, the parties unify voters
6. Unifying function-    across societal cleavages by offering broad platforms.

                                   Troop withdrawal
         No gay Rights


     Pro- Life                                              Gay Rights

                                 Stay the Course
         Minor Political Parties

Minor parties have existed in the United States since its conception but there have
always been two dominant parties.
There are four main types of minor parties:

Ideological parties-These are parties that are based on a broad set of social, economic
                    and political issues.

                   Usually are somewhat Marxist, very long lived and perform very
                   poorly at the polls.
        Ideological Parties

Three time Communist party candidate
Gus hall. Received 438 votes in the 1980
presidential election.                   Reform Party Presidential candidate
                                         Ross Perot received 19.7 million votes
                                         (19%)and 8 million Popular votes (8%)
                                         in 1996
Ross Perot
        Minor Parties

Single Issue Party- Party concerned with one single public policy matter.

                     Disappear as issue fades or have their issues adopted by
                     one of the major parties.

  National Right to Life Party             Know Nothing Party
         Minor Parties

Economic Protest Parties- Centered on one economic policy issues.
                          Not ideologically based and formed during times of
                          economic unrest.

    The Greenback Party                         The Populist Party
            Minor Parties
Splinter Parties-   A party that has split away from one of the major parties.

         Bull Moose Party                            Dixi-Crats/States Rights
           Barriers to Third Party Success
Despite their popularity and resources, minor parties have very little opportunity to win

                      Lack of _____ Lack of     _____ Ballot
                      Resources     Recruitment

         Lack of
         Legitimacy         Cycle of Discouragement           Single Member

                                                      _____ Issue Co-opting
 Wasted Vote Notion _____        Electoral College
           Cycle of Discouragement
  1. Wasted Vote Notion
     In any given American election, one of the two major party candidates will
     actually win.

Most voters would rather
cast their vote for a
candidate that could win.
           Lack of Legitimacy

   Third party’s lack legitimacy in the eyes of the American voter.

   They are seen as “outside of the system” or crackpots or radicals.

94% of major party candidates have had previous experience in the federal government.

  19% of minor party candidates do.

Media devotes 10X the coverage to major party candidates as they do for minor party

  Labeled as “spoilers” or “long shots” by the media.
         Lack of legitimacy
Most minor party candidates have little name recognition.
They often rely on media celebrities to run for office.

                                                Others only perpetuate the Lack of
Former Minnesota Gov and WWF wrestler           Legitimacy stigma.
Jesse “The Body” Ventura
        Issue Co-opting
Most minor parties experience popularity early in the election but fade as the election
grows nearer. “Honey Bee” phenomenon –Ross Perot

As minor parties gain support, major parties take their issues and make it part of
their platform.

Much of Reform party presidential candidate Ross Perot’s budget reform ideas were
stolen by the Clinton campaign.
           Lack of Resources
      Most people will not contribute to a minor party.

      Wasted Vote= wasted money.

   Most minor party candidates spend ½ of their resources battling legal challenges
   by major parties for ballot access.

   No money for qualified accountants or campaign managers.

  Public funding of presidential elections favor two major parties.

Minor parties must receive at least 5% of popular vote in previous election to qualify.
Lack of Ballot Access
      Lack of Ballot Access

  Most election requirements are mandated by state law including ballot access

These requirements vary from the amount of signatures needed to the time period
in which they can be collected, to geographic requirements.

The well funded major parties often challenge the validity of the signatures collected
causing delays and more legal expenses for the minor parties.

Overall, minor part presidential candidates must obtain over 1.5 million signatures.
Lack of Ballot Access
                                    Signatures must come from
     3% of registered voters        each county.


                                             Must have voter
                                             Id # and precinct
                                             # with signature
        Lack of Patronage
       Patronage-The practice of giving jobs and favors to supporters.

     Absolutley vital to building party machinery.

  Patronage creates experience for future candidates.
Without patronage minor parties can’t attract strong campaign staffers or even
qualified (or legitimate) candidates.
        Electoral College

Most states use the “winner take all” method for awarding electoral votes.

 Candidates must win the entire state to be awarded any electoral votes.

If they awarded electoral votes on a proportional basis minor parties could possibly
cause a House election.

1980- Anderson 6.6% popular vote: 0 electoral votes

1948- Thurmond 7.3% popular vote: 2.4 electoral votes

1992- Perot 18.9% popular vote: 0 electoral votes
         Functions of Minor Parties

Despite their lack of success at the polls, minor parties perform vital functions in
a two party system.

#1 Spoiler- Strong third party candidates can play a spoiler role in any election by
drawing support from one of the two major party candidates.
          Role of Minor Parties

#2 Critic/Innovator- Historically, major parties have been reluctant to bring up
controversial issues for fear of alienating voters.

Minor parties have been responsible for public policy issues that would have otherwise
been ignored.
        Role of Minor Parties

#3 Protest Vote- Strong support for third party candidates can also be viewed as
discontent for the two parties.

                          With more than 40% Fof American voters describing
                          themselves as independent, the two partyies must not only
                          satisfy those who are loyal, but must also work to attract
                          independent voters.
          Roles of Minor Parties

One of the few things the major parties agree on is that they like the two party system
the way it is.

Since the major parties dominate each level of government it is likely that minor parties
will continue to exist outside of the system.

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