Revision Guide on American Federal Elections

I put this pack together for my students. It has some detailed information, questions and newspaper articles as well as past exam questions.

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: sarah k-w
  • Created on: 22-06-11 14:29
Preview of Revision Guide on American Federal Elections

First 552 words of the document:

Why are US Presidential Elections campaigns so long?
Candidates should demonstrate an awareness that the following factors contribute to the length of US presidential
· The invisible primary, lasting at least a year, with preparation for running in elections being made even earlier
(the 2012 website for Mike Huckabee has already been set up)
· The primaries which, if front loaded as heavily as in 2008, means that the invisible primary has to start earlier
and with greater intensity
· The national convention that dominates politics in the summer of election year and, if no clear winner
emerges from the primaries, is where a nominee could be chosen
· The general election of the autumn, featuring the head to head debates between the candidates and
between their running mates
· The electoral college which, in extreme cases such as the 2000 election, may lead to the battle continuing
beyond election day
Primaries and Caucuses
What are the types of Primaries?
Closed. Voters may vote in a party's primary only if they are registered members of that party. Independents cannot
participate. Note that due to the use of the word "independent" in the names of some political parties, the term
"non-partisan" is often used to refer to those who are not affiliated with a political party.
Semi-closed. As in closed primaries, registered party members can vote only in their own party's primary.
Semi-closed systems, however, allow unaffiliated voters to participate as well. Depending on the state,
independents either make their choice of party primary privately, inside the voting booth, or publicly, by registering
with any party on Election Day.
Open. A registered voter may vote in any party primary regardless of his own party affiliation. When voters do not
register with a party before the primary, it is called a pick-a-party primary because the voter can select which party's
primary he or she wishes to vote in on election day. Because of the open nature of this system, a practice known as
"raiding" may occur. "Raiding" consists of voters of one party crossing over and voting in the primary of another
party, effectively allowing a party to help choose its opposition's candidate. The theory is that opposing party
members vote for the weakest candidate of the opposite party in order to give their own party the advantage in the
general election. An example of this can be seen in the 1998 Vermont senatorial primary with the election of Fred
Tuttle for the Republican candidate.
Semi-open. Each voter may vote in any single primary, but must publicly declare which primary she will vote in before
entering the voting booth. Typically this declaration is accomplished by requesting a ballot. In many states with
semi-open primaries, election officials record each voter's choice of party and provide the parties access to this
Presidential election primaries and caucuses
The first ones are Iowa and New Hampshire.
Q) Why are these so significant but only have a few delegates allocated to them?
Q) What happened in 2008 primaries and why was it significant?

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

Super Tuesday
In the United States, Super Tuesday, in general, refers to the Tuesday in February or March of a presidential election
year when the greatest number of states hold primary elections to select delegates to national conventions at which
each party's presidential candidates are officially nominated.
More delegates can be won on Super Tuesday than on any other single day of the primary calendar, and, accordingly,
candidates seeking the presidency traditionally must do well on this day to secure their party's nomination.…read more

Page 3

Preview of page 3

Here's a taster:

Before they announce their candidacies, plant a yard sign, or rent storefront space in Des Moines, Republican Presidential
hopefuls, including former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and Mississippi
Governor Haley Barbour, are building high-powered fundraising teams. Every four years a number of preliminary contests
"occur before a single vote is cast," says former Representative Bill Paxon of New York, and "the most important of those is
for the major fundraisers.…read more

Page 4

Preview of page 4

Here's a taster:

Alternatively, some observers have suggested that the short timeframe could create a situation where an
outsider or long shot is able to pull a surprise showing in one or two early contests and then ride a wave of good press
through the crush of primaries without receiving a thorough examination from media and voters. A frontloaded schedule
likely contributes to depressed voter participation in later contests.…read more

Page 5

Preview of page 5

Here's a taster:

With the race virtually over by the end of March, any battles which erupt between members of the same party will
be short, reducing the damage to the party ahead of the general election campaign and preserving resources for
that phase.
Backing from the most prominent leaders of the party is highly beneficial to candidates in a compressed primary
calendar, giving the leaders an opportunity to influence the choice of candidate to represent them in the election.…read more

Page 6

Preview of page 6

Here's a taster:

Q) Why might it not be worth having a primary at that point?
Q) Which party is this more likely to affect?
The National Conventions
Both Democrat and Republican parties have them
Occur every 4 years
National conventions combine three important functions:
Nomination of candidates for office of President and Vice President
Formulation and adoption of a statement of party principles - the platform
Adoption of rule and procedures governing party activities, particularly the nomination process for
presidential candidates in the next election cycle.…read more

Page 7

Preview of page 7

Here's a taster:

Permanent Chair. Although conventions of both parties are opened by a temporary presiding officer, election of a
permanent chair is usually one of the first points in the order of business. The Permanent Chair, who presides for the
balance of the convention, is usually a senior party figure, most often the party leader in the House of
Convention Committees. Committees of the national conventions prepare reports for the conventions on delegate
credentials, rules of procedure, and party platforms.…read more

Page 8

Preview of page 8

Here's a taster:

Factors which limit the electoral impact of minor parties include:
· All US elections use first past the post, which tends to produce a two party system
· Many states have restrictive regulations, which make it difficult for candidates to be on the ballot
· Many states allow `straight ticket' voting, which encourages voters to cast their votes for one of the main
parties in all posts being contested
· Federal funds for presidential elections are only available to parties which gained over 5% of…read more

Page 9

Preview of page 9

Here's a taster:

Narrative: Obama and `Change'
ABC news: 8% of Americans think that the country is heading in the right direction.
President Bush approval rating of 23% is the lowest since records started (mid 70s)
Will it therefore make this a retrospective election?
Obama = change while McCain = Bush III
Narrative: McCain and Experience
McCain wants to be seen as the candidate of change too (Maverick)
He wants to portray Obama as a relative unknown with little experience.…read more

Page 10

Preview of page 10

Here's a taster:

Obama: 39%
McCain: 55%
Obama: 46%
McCain: 50%
Lecture 2: The Electoral Process and the 2008 Presidential election
Edward Ashbee
Textbooks assumptions and claims ­ are they still true for this 2008 election?
1) "Successful presidential candidates are not drawn from the Senate ­ they are usually outsiders (e.g.
State governors)"
Why is this usually the case?
a) Political footprints ­ often Senators have long records which can be used against them by the opposition,
e.g. J.…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar Government & Politics resources:

See all Government & Politics resources »See all resources »