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Voting, Elections, and Campaigns


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Title: Voting, Elections, and Campaigns

Voting, Elections, and Campaigns
  • Chapter 9

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I. The Rules Governing American Elections
  • Other nations have a system of proportional
    representation (def.) seats in the legislature
    are assigned by each partys share of the vote.
  • Presidential elections in the US feature the
    Electoral College rather than the popular vote.
  • In other nations, party leaders or committees
    choose the nominees.

A. Objective 1 is to receive the partys
  • How does this happen?
  • In the Pres. race, she does so by getting the
    most party delegates. (Def.) whose who represent
    a states voters, in selecting the partys pres.
  • Candidates win this support thru 2 methods the
    caucus the primaries.

  1. Caucus (def.) a small meeting where party members
    select delegates to attend the national and
    nominate a pres. candidate.
  2. Primaries (def.) elections where voters choose
    the candidate to represent their party in a
    general election

  • The 1st, two such events are the Iowa Caucus
    the NH Primary. These are sometimes called
    political beauty contests as Americans get
    their first look at the candidates
  • In Demo. Primaries, each candidate must receive
    at least 15 of the vote to be given delegates at
    the convention. Then the numbers are rounded
    up for those receiving gt15 and the others are

  • In GOP primaries, its winner-take-all. (Def.) the
    candidate who gets the most votes wins all votes
    and the others get nothing.

Rules are different from state to state
  1. Open primary (def.) a voter can vote in either
    partys primary, regardless of party
  2. Modified open primary (def.) a voter, not
    affiliated with a party can vote in either
  3. Closed primary (def.) only party members may vote
    in primary.

  • Most states have closed primaries caucuses.
  • In Congressional races, the candidate must win
    the party primary with only a plurality.

B. The nomination process has changed over the
  • Before 1972, primary elections were no binding on
    state delegations.
  • He state party leaders were actually in control
    of the election of candidates.

1.The Watershed Year of 1968
  • Because of the upheaval of the Anti-Vietnam War
    Movement, the power of the party bosses over
    the Demo. Convention, changes were made in how
    candidates would be selected.
  • .

2. Democratic Reforms
  • A Democratic Party commission studied the problem
    of nominating the President made changes.
  • Candidates would now be selected thru elections.
    The GOP did likewise.
  • All delegates chosen by voters are pledged

3. Super-Delegates Brokered Conventions
  • The Democrats also created super-delegates, who
    were not chosen by the people.
  • They were
  1. DNC members
  2. House Senate members
  3. Sitting governors
  4. Important party leaders
  5. (The GOP has no super-delegates.)

  • Super-delegates are to vote like the pledged
    delegates, but if there is no clear choice for a
    candidate, it becomes a brokered-convention
    they try to choose the most elect-able

More primaries, earlier primaries
  • Front-loading (def.) the scheduling of
    primaries earlier in the year.
  • Being later in the year could mean the number of
    necessary votes candidates have already been
  • In a try to shorten the primary calendar, many
    states hold their elections on the same day.
  • Southern Democrats established Super Tuesday in
    1988. This later helped elect Clinton Gore.

C. Who wins the general elections for Congress is
  • The person who gets the most votes, wins. This
    is the plurality rule. (Def) whoever receives
    the more votes than her opponents wins a
    majority is not necessary.
  • In some states, there is a run-off election
    between the top two vote getters, if there is no

D. Presidential election rules
  • Getting the majority of the popular votes doesnt
    mean that the election is won.
  • The Electoral College was a compromise from the
    Constitutional Convention of 1787.
  • A compromise between choosing the president by
    popular vote or by the House.

The Electoral College
  • (Def) A group of presidential electors who sat
    as the representatives of the 50 states and DC.

  1. Each state received an elector for each
    Congressman in the state 2 more for each
  2. This plan pleased states with smaller
    populations, so they would approve the new
  3. The EC was seen as a group of wise men who
    could choose a president better than the masses.
  1. This group would meet in their own state
    capitols, about a month after the popular
    election choose the president VP.
  2. Today, nearly all states assign their elector
    votes on a winner-take-all- basis.

  • In ME NB the winner of the popular vote gets 2
    additional votes. The states popular vote winner
    is also given a vote in each Congressional dist.
    that he carried. AND each elector has his own
  • Today, there are 538 electors in the EC, one for
    each Congressman senator 3 for DC.
  1. Evolution has led to the electors being chosen
    because of their loyalty to the party or
    political contribution.
  2. Electors vote for their partys choice, and in
    most states are required to do so.

II. Understanding Individual Choice
A. The Presidential Primary
  • Less is known about the choosing of candidates in
    the primaries, than the info concerning the
    general election.
  • Experts pay more attention to the general
    election because of the importance of the party
    identification of the voter.
  • Party ID is the most important influence on the
    outcome of the general election.

  • In the 2008 election, 89 of Demos. voted for
    Obama, 90 of the GOP voted for McCain.
  • Of course, in the primary, all the voters
    belonged to the same party!

B. Partisanship Influence
  • Years ago, a study claimed that party affiliation
    is an attitude akin to a persons religion or
    race, very permanent, very slow in changing.

1. Direction Strength of Party ID
  • Direction whether one identifies more with the
    GOP or Demos.
  • Strength the intensity of the attachment
  • It has been seen that individuals keep their
    party ID 80 of the time.

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2. Differing views of party ID
  • (Traditionalists view) Party affiliation
    simplifies beliefs/attitudes for those who pay
    little attention.
  • (Revisionists view) attitudes/beliefs influence
    party ID, rather than the other way around.
  • People develop their party ID first and learn to
    understand it later.

3. Partisan change
  • Party affiliation is not permanent or stable.
  • This was seen in
  • The switch of Southern Demos. (1960s)
  • Switch in Reagan Demos. in the 1980s

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  • See Fig. 9-3
  • The loyal rate between both parties is not as
    strong, now.
  • But not all members are loyal to their candidates
    in every election.
  • Many dont consider themselves GOP or Demos.

C. Issue Policy Preferences.
  • Voters opinions can also affect the Presidential
  • This is called issue voting (def) voting that
    judges the candidate on his issues/pr3eferences
    for certain policies.

Issue voting requires certain conditions
  • Awareness of the issue and having an opinion
  • The issue must be important to the voter
  1. The voter must identify with the candidates
    positions accurately.
  2. The voter must believe his candidate represents
    his beliefs better than the other candidate.

1. Consistency between Issues Voter Choice
  • Several studies have found that the importance
    that votes place on very important, salient
  • Although issues are often more important than the
    candidate in voters minds, the personality/
    charisma may sway ones opinion.

2. Retrospective and prospective voting
  • Voters may use prospective voting (def)judging a
    candidate on what he may do in office, if
  • But more often they stick with retrospective
    voting (def) basing vote on the past performance
    rather than promises made.

  • Retrospective voting, described by V. O. Key as
    the voter being, a rational god of vengeance and

3. Developing positions
  • One should expect more voting on issues that are
    easy to understand
  • Gay marriage 2 options for or against.
  • Those with multiple options are harder to

(Example War with Iraq)
  1. Keep status quo
  2. More economic sanctions against Iraq
  3. Support Iraq forces against Hussein
  4. Renew weapon inspection programs.
  5. Seek UN approval for invasion
  6. A combination
  • .

Valence issues
  • (Def) issues that almost everyone agrees on.
  • War vs. peace
  • Less crime vs. more crime
  • Low unemployment vs. high unemployment
  • Past successes of parties help the voter decide
    who can best handle the problem

D. Voters appraise candidates in 3 Big Ways
  • They appraise candidates by
  • Candidate ideology
  • Personal assessment
  • Like or dislike aspects
  • Feeling thermometer (a combo of the three)

E. The Big 3 produce a voter choice.
  • Party IDs and appraisals reveal the correct
    winner 85-90 of the time.
  • Issue positions party ID are both a part of the
    candidates total evolution.

III. Understanding Election Outcomes
  • Three factors control who wins who loses an
    election in the US
  1. Laws pertaining to how elections are conducted
  2. How candidates wage their campaigns
  3. How voters decide who to vote for

A. Frontrunners have the advantage.
  • The Pre-Primary Season
  • A candidate must make a credible run in several
    states before the primary season begins.
  • He must have the most money or be a frontrunner,
    or both.

Invisible primary
  • (Def) the race to raise the most become
    frontrunner, before the primary season begins.

This has been true in the past 11 presidential
2. Importance of Momentum
  • (Def) the boost in media coverage, name
    recognition, fund-raising that comes with primary
  • Again, this is the key importance in the Iowa
    Caucus the NH Primary.

3. Emergence of the Frontrunner
  • The frontrunner is created during the pre-primary
    period, if he/she has done well in the scores of
  • With the net, candidates can raise quickly,
    round the clock!
  • News is updated continuously on the Internet on
    24-hour news channels.

B. Key Factors to Forecast Results.
  • The experts have become very successful in
    predicting the outcome of elections, with simple
    accurate tools.

Forecasters take into consideration 4 factors.
  1. Party preferences of the voters
  2. Job approval ratings of the president in office
  3. Performance of the economy
  4. Incumbency, if the president his party are
    running for re-election.

  • Factors will probably change sharply, affect
    the election outcome, which can be measured.
  • Unless these factors are one-sided, swing voters
    still have a degree of power with the candidate.
  • In other words, a candidate can still reach the
    threshold level of credibility obtain the key
    swing voting blocks.

2. The Reward/Punishment Equation
  • This equation has to do with a retrospective
    voting model recognition of political party ID
    of the voters an understanding of election
  • If voters are pleased with the party the old
    president, they will probably vote for the next
    pres. from the same party.
  • And, if the economy has done well, the voters
    will vote for the party in power, again.

IV. The Presidential Campaign
A. Turnout, Loyalty, Persuasion
  • To win, the following objectives must be met
  • A high turnout of party supporters
  • Win large share of votes from supporters
  1. Encourage opposition party voters to defect
  2. Reduce the turnout of the other partys voters
  3. Turnout loyalty defection persuasion

B. Campaign Messages are Researched Targeted.
  • Focus group (def) an interview with a small
    number of people representing important voter
  • After messages are delivered/tested, they go to
    battleground states. (Def) states where neither
    candidate has a big advantage.
  • Un-contested states are called red states or blue

  • Red states are (def) uncontested GOP states,
    where the GOP candidate is likely to win.
  • Blue states are (def) are Demo- cratic states.

C. Field Operations
  • (Def) the ground war intended to produce high
    turnout among party loyalists.
  • TV/radio ads are considered the air war.
  • The ground war means, getting-out-the-vote.
    This is done thru
  1. Phone calls
  2. Letters
  3. E-mail
  4. Personal visits
  5. Rides to the polls

  • This is esp. true of the Demos, who try to turn
    out votes of minorities, the elderly, and other
    party loyalists.
  • The GOP mobilizes the suburban whites,
    evangelical Christians other supporters.

D. Campaign Finance Laws and
  • Running a modern campaign is very expensive.
  • There are 3 types of monies
  • Hard money (def) for expressly running the
  • Soft money (def) for other party purposes.
  • Public money (def) taxpayer to help finance
    pres. campaigns.

1. Hard Money
  • A Person may contribute up to 2,300 for each
    primary the general election for a total of
  • One may also contribute 26,700 to each party,
    each year.
  • One may also donate 5,000 or less to any
    political action committee. (PAC).

  • PAC - a group funded by 50 people, affiliated
    with a special-interest group that makes
    contributions to federal candidates.
  • Coordinated expenditures limited purchases made
    by the party for a specific campaign.
  • Independent expenditures unlimited purchases
    made by the party, but not for a specific
  • (See Table 9-2)

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2. Soft Money
  • These are funds for purposes other than the
    election/defeat of a specific candidate.
  • Before the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (2002)
    placed limits on soft money,unlimited
    contributions were permitted to political
  • Some interest groups were making contributions in
    the millions!

  • The BCRA prohibited the use of soft money for
    promoting an election or defeat of a specific
  • A way around the ban was the use of the 527
    Committee (def) a tax-exempt, non-party group
    that raises spends unlimited sums of on
    political activities advertising.
  • (See Fig. 9-7)

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3. Public Money Matching Funds.
  • During the primary season, candidates for their
    partys nomination can qualify for matching funds
    (def) public money given to qualifying candidates
    to match a certain age of the funds they have
    already raised.
  • There are many rules concerning the matching

  1. The candidate must raise gt5000 in single
    contributions of gt250 in at least 20 states.
  2. He must follow each states spending limits.
  3. She must receive gt10 of the vote in each of the
    following primaries.
  1. The match will continue as long as 10 of the
    vote is maintained.
  2. He/she may refuse the match and spend all of
    their own money they desire.

  • Most major candidates refuse matching funds,
    during the primaries. (Bush, 2000 2004).
  • No major candidates accepted matching funds in
    the 2008 primaries.

The Fed. government does provide financing for
the general election
  • With these restrictions
  • The candidates will not seek additional funds
    from any other sources.
  • They will not spend more than 50,000 of their
    own money.
  • They will then be able to spend any funds as they
    see fit.
  • .

  • .
  • 3rd parties may also receive these funds if they
    received at least 25 of the vote in the previous
  • If this occurs, the 3rd party will receive the
    funding during that current election year, AND
    the next two election years, as well.

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