Differences between INTEREST GROUPS and POLITICAL PARTIES

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					Chapter Eight Political Parties

Instructor: Kevin Sexton Course: U.S. Political Systems Southeast Missouri State University

What Is A Political Party
A group of individuals with common beliefs, values and opinions that band together to affect a given area of public policy by attempting to get their members elected to public office.
Differences between INTEREST GROUPS & POLITICAL PARTIES How they work: • Political Parties attempt to effect public policy by getting their members elected to public office. • Interest Groups attempt to effect public policy without getting their members elected to public office. Who their members are: • Political Parties are INCLUSIVE • Interest Groups are EXCLUSIVE

Roles of Political Parties
(These are not in your textbook) 1. Recruit Candidates 2. Nominate Candidates 3. Mobilize Voters 4. Contest Elections 5. Form Governments 6. Coordinate Policies across independent units of government 7. Provide Accountability

Brief History of Political Parties in the United States
The history of political parties in the U.S. can be broken down into 6 eras.
To understand the concept of different eras we need to look at a series of terms and concepts. 1. Party Alignment 2. Critical Election 3. Realignment

1st and 2nd Party Eras
1st Era (Jeffersonian)
• Barely recognized as a party era. • Because not many people involved in the political process • Nomination of presidential and vice-presidential candidates controlled by a congressional caucus.

2nd Era (Jacksonian)

Critical Election: 1828

• Introduced use of the National Nominating Conventions. • First time a party was based on mass participation. • Democrats and Whigs were primary parties. • Economics and Territorial Expansion were basic issues of the day. • Democrats splintered as northern and southern members could not agree on a candidate. • Both nominated a candidate (combined they got 60% of the pop. vote). • Abe Lincoln won the election with 40% of the pop. vote.

Critical Election: 1860

3rd and 4th Party Eras
3rd Era (Civil War and Reconstruction)
• Parties gained great levels of control over the political process. • “Party Machines” are the model of the day. • i.e. Tammany Hall (NYC) • Candidates continued to be nominated by the party. • Only popular choice came after the party nominated the individuals.

Critical Election: 1896
4th Era (Industrial Republican)
• Progressive reforms weaken party control. • Australian Ballot • Direct Primary • Pendleton Act

Critical Elections: 1932 & 1936

5th and 6th Party Eras
5th Era (New Deal)
• Dominated by the Democrats. • Because they were able to bring together the “common” man. • Repeal of the Democrats 2/3rds rule allowed the Democratic Party to eventually nominate more “pro-civil rights” candidates for president. • Democrats become the new party of the blacks. • Solid Democratic south became a Solid Republican South.

Critical Election: 1968 6th Era (Divided Government)
• Neither party has had dominant control during this period. • Republicans dominated the presidential races, but Democrats rarely lost control of the House or the Senate. • It has been suggested that parties have become so weak they cannot become powerful enough to force a realignment to create a new party era.

Two Party System
It is true that we have a TWO-PARTY system.

Why do we have a two-party system?
Is it required in the Constitution? NO.

We have a TWO-SYSTEM because of the way we chose/elect the elected officials in this country.
Our elected officials are selected through a process that is known as a: Single-member, Simple Plurality (SMSP) System

SMSP Electoral System
Single-Member
• Each election that is held has ONE winner that is elected to represent the whole district. • also known as “winner takes all.”

Simple Plurality
• The winner of the election is the candidate that receives a plurality of the votes cast. • Majority is 50.1% of the votes cast. • Plurality is getting more votes than anyone else.

Proportional Electoral System
Many democracies select the members of the national legislature based on the following: 1. Multiple-Member Districts • More that one “winner” in each district. 2. “Winners” are based on the percent of the popular vote that each party receives.

Side by Side Comparison of the SMSP & Proportional Electoral Systems
SMSP Party A ---- 31% of votes cast Party B ---- 33% of votes cast Party C ---- 36% of votes cast One person will represent the district. Candidate from Party C is the winner. WHY? That candidate won more votes than any other candidate. Proportional Party A ---Party B ---Party C ---Party D ---30% of votes cast 40% of votes cast 10% of votes cast 20% of votes cast

10 people will represent the district. • 3 individuals from Party A “win.” • 4 individuals from Party B “win.” • 1 individual from Party C “win.” • 2 individuals from Party D “win.”

Which System discourages THIRD PARTIES?
WHY?

Third Parties
• As the previous slide shows, Third Parties have very little legitimate chance of winning elected office in this nation. • There are sporadic instances where a Third Party candidate might win a local office. •But with the exception of Gov. Ventura, in Minnesota there have not been many other Third Party candidates that have won a state or national office.

If this is the case, why do Third Parties exist?
Most Third Parties that provide any true impact are short lived. This is because any Third Party that attracts “significant” popular support (votes) will have major parts of their platform “co-opted” by one or both of the major political parties. i.e. Ross Perot & Ralph Nader

Strength of Parties in the U.S.
Key events have reduced the power of political parties in the U.S.

1. Civil Service Reform 2. Open Primary 3. Australian Ballot 4. Increased Mobility of the Population 5. Technological Advances

From the mid-1980s the national party organizations have seen An increase in their influence over campaigns, but not an increase In their influence over candidates.
Elections have become more candidate-centered and less party-centered.

Candidate- Versus Party-Centered Politics
In past years individuals in the U.S. looked very closely at What party a candidate belonged to. If they belonged to “their” party that is the person they voted for. Straight Party Voting was common. Voters have begun looking more closely at the individual candidates in an election, and assessing the values and abilities of the candidates. Split Ticket Voting is more common today. Parties have therefore become less powerful And We continue to see Divided Government


				
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