Elections Revision Notes

All of my notes from last year. I know there's enough there to get a pretty good idea of what's going on - hope they help you like they did me.

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2008 election
Who stood?
How long did it take?
How much did it cost?
o Why did Obama win?
o Why does it cost so much?
o Too partisan?
Invisible Primaries
In essence, the political manoeuvring before the actual elections
Known as `invisible primaries' because there is so little so see
Comprises the time between candidates declaring their intention to stand
and the elections in which they stand
Mostly played out in the media
Largely uses opinion polls to gauge the strength of each candidate
Strong correlation between winning invisible and real primaries (although not
in 0708)
Process of electing a candidate for President
Only of importance since 50s
o Candidates used to be selected by `men in smokefilled rooms' (party
o Grassroots voters were hacked off (particularly Democrats, after
Hubert Humphrey got 2.2% of the vote and became the Democrat
Iowa & New Hampshire ­ important early ones
Frontloading ­ every state trying to have their elections as early as possible
(for publicity and importance) 42 states have their primaries by March
Super Tuesday, in early February ­ lots of states band together for publicity
and attention
Types of primary
o Open ­ anyone can vote (although can't then vote in the other party's
primary, to discourage sabotage one assumes)
o Closed ­ only people who are registered supporters can vote in their
respective parties' primaries
o Modified ­ can have registered independent/swing voters voting,
rather than having to be Dem. or Repub.
o Proportional ­ PR e.g. South Carolina
o WinnerTakesAll ­ FPTP e.g. New York
How important are the primaries?
Does money play the decisive role in primaries?

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Are they too long?
Advantages & Disadvantages of primary system
o More democratic than old system
o Battle shows your capabilities
o Recently been very important ­ have upset books (e.g. Hilary Clinton
believed primaries would be over and done by 5th of February, Super
o Opens process to outsiders (those outside of cronyism ­ like Obama
and Ms.…read more

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Now, Presidential candidate chooses runningmate and
convention only confirms
Traditionally, VP candidate announced on third day of
convention tradition broken in 1984 by Walter Mondale, who
announced his choice four days before opening of convention
­ and that stuck
o Deciding party platform
Document containing policies that candidate intends to pursue
if elected President
Informal Functions
o Promotes party unity
Plausibly the most important function of all
Heals internal wounds after primaries in order to unite for
proper election
o Enthusing party faithful
Vital that…read more

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Disguised partisans ­ generally vote consistently with one
party, often more partisan than registered partisans but open
to independents
Deliberators ­ Swing voters, hold favourable views for both
Disillusioned ­ dissatisfied with both parties and the twoparty
system around 80% have little or no confidence in government
Dislocated ­ socially liberal, fiscally conservative
uncomfortable with polarised parties
o Gender
Men vote GOP (generally)
Women vote Democrat (generally)
Obama had 1% advantage in men, 13% in women
o Race
95% of AfricanAmericans voted Obama, usually…read more

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Preserves voice of smallpopulation states
o Small states still worry that if the Electoral College were to be
abolished, they would lose precious influence
o California has 18 times as many votes as Wyoming and Alaska
Promotes twohorse race
o Fact that winner will usually get more than 50% of the vote is good for
President as a symbol of national unity
o In 25/37 elections between 1864 and 2008, winner gained more than
50% of popular vote
o But 3 of the 12…read more

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Minnesota Elector voted for John Edwards as President
(though spelling it Ewards) instead of John Kerry then all Electors
voted for Edwards as VP ­ first time Elector (knowingly or
unknowingly) voted for the same candidate for both offices
o No rogue electors in 2008
President and VP of different parties
o To begin with this was not a problem ­ there were no political parties
as we understand today
o However, it was plausible that in 2000 the HoR could've picked Bush
for president…read more


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