UNIT 3C Representative Process In The USA

Full notes for unit 3:

  • Elections and voting
  • Political Parties 
  • Pressure groups
  • Racial and ethnic politics 
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Election to select a parties candidacy for president
Open primary: A primary for any registered voter, democrat or
republican. E.G. Texas
Closed: A primary for democrats and a primary for Republicans.
(Separate one's)
Invisible primary: candidates try to gain support and finance in the year
before the primary
Proportional primary: awarded delegates in proportion to votes they
Winner-takes-all: Win the most votes and you take all the states
Increased level of participation from ordinary votes (30% in 2008)
Increased interest from people
Increased choice of candidates (14 in 2008)
Removing power from party bosses
Turnout is usually low
Voters are usually unrepresentative of normal voters (tend to be
wealthier, old and better educated)
Process is far too long and expensive (Obama in 2008 announced his
running 332 before the first primary
Fails to test presidential qualities
Increased importance of primaries:
Really the only route to become a parties President
A meeting for the selection of a candidate
Usually held in states that are geographically large but thinly populated
(Iowa, North Dakota, Nevada)
Turnout is usually pretty low, and usual favour ideological candidates
National party conventions:
Formal functions:
Choose presidential candidate. (Need majority of delegates)
This function has been lost to primaries
Now just merely confirm the candidate
Choose VP, usually a balanced ticket so VP brings what President can't
(McCain + Palin 2008, Old & young, male & female)

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Informal functions:
Enthuse the party (they organise the campaign and enthuse voters
Promote party unity (heal divisions created in the primaries)
Enthuse ordinary voters (through tv and the acceptance speech)
Campaign finance:
Before 1970 reforms:
Personal wealth was important (JFK)
Not limited in what you could donate to a candidate
Could spend any sum of money on your campaign
Left room for corruption
2002 Financial Reforms
Banned contributions from foreign nationals (Charlie Tree & Clinton)
Corporate groups could no longer directly fund
Limited to donations…read more

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Party affiliation:
Find gender, race etc... figures for 2012 election &
geographical locations
Congressional elections:
Take place every 2 years (mid-terms)
Whole of HoR & 1/3 of senate are elected
Trends in congressional elections:
Incumbents (currently hold the seat) are usually not defeated. (2004,
93% of seats were safe seats)
Coat ­tails effect: Strong candidate for a party at the top (i.e.…read more

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Remove someone from office before term is up, direct form of
2003-Gray Davis removed from office & Arnie was appointed
National organisation:
Each party has a national committee
Party chairman, day-to-day running of the party
Meet in full twice a year
National convention every 4 years
State organisation:
State party convention
State party committee (headed by state party chairman)
County committees
District committees
City committees
Ward committees
Precinct committees
Power of state parties in selecting candidates…read more

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Ethnic minorities
Republican support came from WASPS (White Anglo Saxon Protestant)
5. Civil rights
Democrats favoured civil rights
Used federal resources to support
Brought an end to the solid democratic south
6. Role of the federal government
1930's reversed earlier positions
Republicans now favoured decentralisationsed government
Democrats favoured centralised government
Party ideologies:
Democrats, liberal.…read more

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Increased Partisanship:
Previous `solid south' associated with the Democrat party
1960-90, slow breakdown of the south, mainly due to Nixon's southern
strategy in 1972, in 1980 took 10 out 11 southern states
1960 House of the south, 99Democrats-7Republicans
2012 House of the south, 77Democracts-48 Republicans
This has caused:
Wider difference between the 2 parties
More ideologically cohesive
Lessen difference within party and more partisanship
Twentieth-century, 50-50 nation
2000, 49%ish per party, ECV 271-267, HoR 221-212, Senate 50-50
2012, 51%-48%, HoR 195-233, Senate 53-45
Two-party system:…read more

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Florida, result took a month of recounts
2012 hinged on Florida for a while
Parties are very decentralised
Only become united at election time
Even the election is at state level and under state laws
However there is a national party platform that they vaguely follow
Shades of Purple ­ Mixed
Red vs. Blue is somewhat simplistic
2008 ­ 9 states that had voted for George W.…read more

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Third Party difficulties:
Electoral system winner-takes-all
o All elections ­ presidential, congressional or state ­ use this
o Can work for regional parties ­ Wallace won 45 EC votes with
13% of the vote
o But Perot (1992) won no EC votes with 19% of the popular vote ­
spread across the country
Matching funds
o Major party candidates only have to secure at least $5,000 in
contributions of $250 or less in at least 20 states
o But third party candidates have to…read more

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Candidates from the Constitution, Libertarian or Socialist parties
are not different to paint as ideologues
o Given the fear of political extremism (particularly on the left),
this is the end of many candidates
o When a third party candidate overcomes all the other issues and
does well...
o Major parties can simply adopt their policies and leave them with
nothing left to change
o E.g. `Southern strategy' to woo Wallace voters
o E.g.…read more

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A pressure group is an organised interest group in which members share and
actively pursue common views and objectives to influence government.
Pressure groups are therefore quite distinct from political parties.
Pressure groups vary considerably in terms of size, wealth and influence.
Pressure groups in the USA operate at all levels of government - federal, state
and local - and seek to bring their influence to bear on all three branches of
government - the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.…read more


Old Sir

A very detailed and comprehensive set of notes. This will be useful to students whose own notes might have gaps, but should be used in conjunction with their own note making skills.

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