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Party Politics Today Lecture


Party Politics Today Lecture Parties similar on paper-National convention has ultimate power; meets every four years to nominate presidential candidate – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Party Politics Today Lecture

Party Politics TodayLecture
  • Parties similar on paper
  • -National convention has ultimate power meets
    every four years to nominate presidential
  • -National committee is composed of delegates from
    the states manage affairs between conventions
  • -Congressional campaign committees support the
    partys congressional candidates
  • -National chair manages the daily work

Party Structure diverged in late 60s and
70s -RNC moved to a bureaucratic structure- a
well financed party devoted to electing its
candidates, especially to Congress -Democrats
moved to factionalized structure and
redistributed power -RNC used computerized
mailings lists to raise money, money used to
provide services to candidates, a national firm
of political consultants -DNC learned from the
RNC and adopts the same techniques -DNC and RNC
send money to state parties, to sidestep federal
spending limits (soft money)
National Conventions -National committee sets
time and place- issues call setting the number
of delegates for each state and the rules for
their selection -Formulas are used to allocate
delegates Democrats formula shifts delegates
from the South to the West and North
Republicans formula shifts delegates from the
East to the South and Southwest Result- Reps.
move right, Dems. move left -Democrat formula
rewards large states -Republican formula rewards
loyal states
  • Democrats Set New Rules
  • In 1970s, rules changed to weaken local party
    leaders and increase the proportions of women,
    youth, blacks, and Native Americans attending the
  • -Hunt Commission in 1981-superdelegates
    increased the influence of elected officials and
    made the convention more deliberative
  • Consequence of Reforms
  • -parties represent different sets of upper middle
    class voters
  • Republicans represent the traditional middle
    class, conservatives
  • Democrats represent new class, more liberal

Democrats make more rule changes to become more
competitive -In 1988, the number of
superdelegates was increased while the status of
some special interest caucuses was decreased -In
1992, three rules were set Winner-reward
system of delegate distribution banned, this had
previously given winners of primaries and
caucuses extra delegates Proportional
representation implemented States that
violated the rules were penalized with the loss
of convention delegates. (Michigan-2008) Convent
ions today only ratify choices made in primary
season- unless a tight race
  • State and Local Parties
  • State level structure
  • State central committee
  • County committees
  • Various local committees
  • Distribution of power varies withing the state,
    as different incentives are at work
  • Party types
  • -The machine
  • -Ideological parties
  • -Solidarity Groups
  • -Sponsored Parties
  • -Personal following

The Machine -a party organization that recruits
members via tangible incentives (money, jobs,
political favors) -high degree of leadership
control -abuses were extensive -gradually
controlled by reforms- voter registration, civil
service, Hatch Act (1939)(prohibits federal
employees from participating in partisan
politics) -machines continued until voter
demographics and federal programs changed,
decreasing the need for parties
resources -machines were self-serving and public
rewarding -New machines are a blend of the old
machine (campaign finance) and todays
ideological party traits (issues)
Ideological Parties - extreme opposite to
machine -Principle is more important than winning
election -Contentious and factionalized -Usually
an outside third party -local reform clubs in
the 1950s and 1960s -reform clubs replaced by
more focused social movements which advance
specific demands -Political machine replaced by
todays social movements as the farm club of
the national party factionalism is more
intense party leaders have less freedom
Solidarity Groups -Members are motivated by
solidarity incentives (companionship) -Advantage
neither corrupt nor inflexible -Disadvantage not
very hard working- Is it raining? Sponsored
Parties -created or sustained by another
organization Example Detroit Democrats were
developed and led by the UAW union -not very
common in the U.S. Personal Following -appealing
personality, name recognition, and money Example
Kennedys, Romneys, Longs
The Two Party System -A rarity among nations
today -Parties are balanced nationally, but not
locally Why has the two party system endured so
long? -Electoral system- winner-take-all and
plurality system limit the number of
parties -Opinions of voters-two broad coalitons
work (most of the time- sometimes bitter
dissent) -State laws have made it difficult for
third parties to get on the ballot- petition
drives, voter signatures etc.
Minor Parties- third parties -Ideological
Parties-radical view, most enduring, ex.
Socialist, Communist, Libertarian, Green -One
issue parties- address one concern, ex. Free
Soilers, Prohibition -Economic Protest Parties-
regional protest of economic policies, ex.
Populists -Factional Parties, split from a major
party, usually over presidential candidate, ex.
Bull Moose, Henry Wallace, Ross Perot Why not
more minor parties? -slim chance of
success -major parties accommodate movements with
Nominating a President -Two contrary forces
partys desire to win presidency motivates it to
seek an appealing candidate, but its desire to
keep dissidents within the party force it
compromise on more extreme views Are the
delegates representative of the voters? -Democrat
delegates much more liberal -Republican delegates
much more conservative -Outcome cannot be
attributed to quota rules for delegate selection
alone -women, youth, minorities have greater
diversity of opinions than do the
delegates -those with extreme views are often the
most motivated
Who Votes in Primaries -little ideological
difference between primary voters and
rank-and-file voters -unlike caucuses who often
choose most ideological candidate Who are the
New Delegates? -issue oriented activists -Advantag
es increased opportunities for activists within
the two major parties and decreased chance that
activists will bolt the party -Disadvantages
delegates may nominate presidential candidate
unacceptable to voters or even the partys
Parties Versus Voters -Rank-and-file Democrats
and Republicans differ on many political issues,
but the differences are usually small -delegates
from the two major parties differ widely on the
same issues -Candidates need to share views with
average citizen or campaign on issues where
delegates and voters agree Problems arise when
candidates must play to the ideological extremes
to win delegate support