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American Government Unit 6: Elections, Political Parties, and Special Interest Groups Mr. Chortanoff Overview and Insights Chapters 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: American%20Government%20Unit%206:%20Elections,%20Political%20Parties,%20and%20Special%20Interest%20Groups

American GovernmentUnit 6 Elections, Political
Parties, and Special Interest Groups
  • Mr. Chortanoff
  • Overview and Insights
  • Chapters 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

3 Concepts
Unit Essential Question How do political parties
and special interest groups
influence our American electoral
What is the political spectrum? 1. What functions do special interest groups serve in our democracy? 1. How are elections conducted in America?
2. What major functions do political parties serve in our government? 2. What are the major criticisms of special interest groups? 2. What factors influence voter behavior?
Political SpectrumA way to determine and
understand your political, economic, and social
1. Economic Scale goes Left (communist) to Right
(free market) 2. Social Scale goes Bottom
(weak/no govt) to Top (strong govt/dictatorship)
Use this hyperlink to connect to an online
Political Parties are groups who seek to control
  • Govern
  • Want to win elections and hold office
  • Inform and activate supporters (get involved)
  • Represent peoples will
  • Power brokers (resolve conflicts in govt/people)
  • Nominate candidates
  • Watchdogs of the other party for abuses/mistakes

Two-Political Party System
  • Origin Federalists v. Anti-Federalists fight
    over Constitution in the 1780s.
  • Not in Constitution
  • Tradition
  • Both Parties tend to be moderate, but have
    extremists factions on the edge
  • Electoral system
  • Winner take all in Single Member Districtsnot
    seated by percentage of votes received (like in a
    parliamentary govt)

Other Forms Multiparty and Single Party
  • Multi-party System
  • Parties are based on single issues or interest
  • Economic class, religious beliefs, political
  • Have several major and many minor parties exist
  • More diversified representation of the electorate
  • Compete
  • compromise / form coalitions or temporary
  • Tend to be unstable (Govt falls due to a vote
    of no confidence in Parliament for a PM and his
  • Single Party
  • Communist or Fascist Dictatorship

American Parties Four Major Eras
  • Three Historical Eras of Party Influence
  • 1. The Era of the Democrats, 18001860
  • Democrats dominate all but two presidential
  • The Whig Party emerges in 1834, but declines by
    the 1850s, electing only two Presidents.
  • The Republican Party is founded in 1854.
  • 2. The Era of the Republicans, 18601932
  • Republicans dominate all but four presidential
  • The Civil War disables the Democratic Party for
    the remainder of the 1800s.
  • 3. The Return of the Democrats, 19321968
  • Democrats dominate all but two presidential
  • Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected
    President four times.

4. 1968 to Present
  • The Start of a New Era The Era of Divided
  • Since 1968, neither Republicans nor
    Democrats have dominated the presidency and
    Congress has often been controlled by the
    opposing party.

19681976 Republicans hold the presidency
Congress is controlled by Democrats
19761980 Democrats hold the presidency Congress
is controlled by Democrats
19801992 Republicans hold the presidency
Senate controlled by Republicans 1980-1986,
controlled by Democrats from 1986 to 1994
1992 2000 Democrats hold the presidency
Congress controlled by Republicans, 1994 to
2000 Republicans hold the presidency Congress is
controlled by Republicans
2008-? Democrats take presidency Congress is
controlled by Democrats
Minor Parties
  • Ideological (socialist, communist)
  • Single Issue (Green Party)
  • Economic Protest (Greenbacks,
  • Populists)
  • Splinter (Bull-Moose)
  • Importance
  • Innovator New ideas (raises awareness)
  • Spoiler role (takes votes, i.e. Nader in 2000)
  • Critic of Major Parties

Special Interest Groups
  • Need them?
  • Legal?
  • Examples?

Special Interest Groups and Political Parties
INTEREST GROUPS Do not nominate candidates for office Concentrate only on those issues that most directly affect the interests of their members Are private organizations BOTH Made up of people who unit for a political purpose Try to sway public policy with information on issues and topics relevant to them Function at all levels of government Concerned with influencing the policies of government Interested in the issue of government Try to build a positive image of their ideas POLITICAL PARTIES Nominate candidates for public office Concerned with winning elections and controlling government Interested in the candidates for government office Concerned with the whole range of public affairs everything of concern to voters---not just ONE issue Accountable to the public
Types of Interest Groups Based on Economic
Business Groups Labor Unions Agriculture Groups Professional Groups
Common goal is to promote business interests Hundreds of specific groups Organizations of workers who share the same type of job or work in the same industry Call for govt policies that will benefit their members Powerful force in American politics, though membership has declined Though few people still live on farms, farmers influences on agricultural policies is enormous Several powerful alliances, who sometimes have conflicting goals Serve interests of professional in such areas as medicine, law, and teaching Generally not as large, well-organized, well-financed, or effective as other interest groups Try to bend public policy to help the welfare of the profession and its members
Campaign Funding
  • Public / Tax Payers
  • PACs
  • political action committees, which are the
    political arms of special interest groups that
    seek to affect elections and public policy
  • Candidates / Families
  • Donors
  • Wealthy Americans
  • Average Americans
  • Online Donations
  • Political Party
  • Fundraisers Dinners, Speeches, Donations

  • All levels
  • Federal
  • State
  • Local
  • All are run by the states
  • All are secret
  • Methods
  • Ballot / booth
  • Online
  • Vote by Mail (absentee)
  • History The number of AA office holders has
    dramatically increased from 1970 to 2008
  • EX Mississippi
  • 81 to 892
  • Other
  • Opinion Polls and Survey
  • EX Gallup Polls
  • Media TV, Newspapers, Talk Radio, Magazines,
  • Primary vs. General Election
  • Open Primary vs. Closed Primary

Voters Behavior
Voters Both Nonvoters
High level of education, income, careers Long-time residents who are active in govt Strong sense of party loyalty Live in areas with high voter turnoutand competition American citizens with the right to vote Often are resident aliens Illness prevents them from voting Out of their voting district on election day Live in rural areas Young Often unskilled workers Dont think their vote counts
  • In American history, suffrage has been extended
    to more and more people.
  • Early 1800s, religious membership, property
    ownership, and tax payment requirements are
  • Post Civil War, 15th Amendt gives AA men the
  • Post WWI, 19th Amendt gives women the right to
  • Civil Rights Era, the Voting Rights Act of 1965
    removed discrimination barriers for AAs
  • 23rd Amendt gave DC the vote
  • 24th Amendment removed the poll tax
  • 26th Amendt set the minimum age for voting 18