Chapter 8: Political Parties

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1 Chapter 8: Political Parties

2 Political Parties and their Functions Political party: an organization that sponsors candidates for public office under the organization s name True political parties select individuals to run for public office through a formal nomination process: designation as an official candidate of a political party This distinguishes political parties from interest groups 4 party functions: 1. Nominating candidates for public office 2. Structuring the vote choice by narrowing the field of candidates determine the voting choice by lowering number of candidates on ballot

3 Party Functions Continued 3. Proposing alternative government programs: types of policies advocated by candidate of one party tend to be different than types of policies advocated by candidate of other party Candidates tend to favor policies that fit their party s underlying philosophy 4. Coordinating the actions of government officials: officials of a specific party typically work together Officials with the same party affiliation tend to have same philosophy and voluntarily cooperate with each other

4 History of U.S. Political Parties Political Parties Flow Chart Election of 1824: because of the era of good feelings, Democratic Republicans weakened due to lack of partisan competition In 1824, divisions within the party led to five candidates, each one representing a different faction within the party, seeking the presidency Henry Clay: Speaker of the House John Calhoun: secretary of war, support of states rights Andrew Jackson: war hero J.Q. Adams: son of former president, secretary of state under Monroe William Crawford: former treasury sec. Jackson led in popular vote, but failed to win electoral majority Electoral college split: Jackson 99, Adams 84, Crawford 41 Under such conditions, Constitution turns matter over the House for final decision among top 3 contenders Clay backed Adams Adams promised to make Clay sec. of state for support as Speaker of the House, this clinched presidency for Adams Made Jackson mad felt he should have won because had popular vote, lead to split in party

5 Minor Parties aka Third Parties Four Types: 1. Bolter Parties: aka splinter parties; formed by factions that have split off from one of the major parties Have not affected outcome of presidential elections Example: Tea Party 2. Farmer-labor parties: represented farmers and urban workers who believe they were not getting their fair share Example: Populist Party 3. Parties of Ideological Protest: criticize the established system, propose radically different principles, often favoring more government activism Example: Libertarian Party 4. Single-Issue Parties: formed to promote one principle, not a general philosophy of government Example: Free Soil Party of 1840s,1850s; Republican Party began as a single-issue party against slavery

6 Minor Parties 3 rd parties formed primarily to express some voters discontent with choices offered by the major parties and to work for their own objectives within the electoral system When it comes to getting votes, generally not that successful Take votes away from major parties As policy advocates, have bigger impact women s suffrage, direct election of senators originated with third parties

7 Why a Two-Party System Stem from the electoral system in the United States and the process of political socialization also due to the fact that there has always been one In typical election, two or more candidates contest each office, winner is the single candidate who collects the most votes when principles of single winners chosen by a simple plurality of votes govern the election of legislative members= majority representation Two party system due to use of single-member districts and winner-takeall system Legislature might by chosen through proportional representation: awards legislative seats to each party in proportion to the total number of votes it wins in an election Tends to produce a multi-party system because each can win enough seats nationwide to wield some influence Examples: most European countries Great Britain, Denmark, France

8 Party Identification Party Identification: a voter s sense of attachment to a party Differs from voting voting is a behavior; party identification is a state of mind Across the nation, more people identify with one of the two major political parties than reject a party attachment Party identification predisposes citizens to vote for their favorite party Studies show that about half of all Americans adopt their parents party

9 National Party Organization Americans parties parallel our federal system: have separate national and state organizations 1. National convention: delegates meets every 4 years in order officially nominate party candidates for president/vp Supreme governing body of the party, designates a national committee, which has power to govern party until next convention, and determines party platform: the statement of policies 2. National committee: runs the party between conventions; composed of party officials representing the States and territories Chairperson of each national committee chosen by the party s presidential nominee, duly elected by the committee

10 National Party Organization 3. Congressional party conferences: at beginning of each session of Congress, Republicans and Democrats in each chamber hold separate party conferences: used to select party leaders in Congress and decide committee assignments Party conferences deal only with congressional matters and have no structural relationship to each other and no relationship to the national committees 4. Congressional campaign committees: raises fund to support party s candidates in congressional races Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate maintain separate congressional campaign committees The national committees hardly give money to congressional candidates

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