What is the reason for the factionalised nature of both parties?
Because of the internal coalitions as result of ideological debate in both parties
Who was the debate between in the Democratic Party?
The Old Fashioned Democrats and the New Democrats
What was the reason for the ideological debates within the Democratic Party?
Many in the party saw the defeats of 1968 and 72 elections and again in 84 and 88 as a refusal from the electorate of old style democratic ideology. This was because candidates in those elections were old style liberals.
In that period, the only victory during this period was Jimmy Carter in 1976
What was the consequence of the ideological debate in the Democratic Party?
The rise of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) who sought to move the Democrats futher to the centre of the political centre and thus appeal to a wider proportion of the American electorate
What did the DLC achieve in 1993?
There presidential candidate, Senator Bill Clinton of Arkansas, broke the succession of defeats and survived two full terms of presidency- first Democratic candidate to do so since FDR
This was evidence to suggest that the public preferred this new style of politics
What was the result of the rise of New Democrats?
Although old fashioned liberals still existed such as late Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts who had their roots still in unionised labour, the New Democrats emerged as the major coalition within the party
Lasting decades, who was the Republican Party debate between?
Moderate and Conservative Republicans
How did the Republican internal debate begin?
With the defeat of Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona in the Presidential elections came the debate between his conservative faction and the moderate Rockefeller Republicans (term used to scorn moderates)
Battle evident in almost every Presidential election cycle.
The battle between moderate and conservative Republicans was evident in almost every election cycle, what seemed to settle it?
When conservative candidate Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980 and then overwhelmingly in 1984- appeared to show that public preferred a more conservative Republican party
What did the election of Republican George Bush Sr do?
Returned the party back to a more moderate leadership in 1988
What did President George W Bush attempt to do in his 2000 Campaign to solve the internal divisions
Sought to blur the differences through campaigning under Compassionate Conservative.
Compassionate to please the Rockefeller Republican faction and Conservative to please the Reagan Republicans.
Why are the Political parties decentralised in America?
Because America has a decentralised sytem of government based on federalism and so political parties are likely to be decentralised also.
Why is President Obama's position as leader of the Democratic Party questionable?
Even as president he is unable to exercise much leadership at times, even among his own party. America does not have the UK's whipping system and so the Democrats aren't required to vote along "party lines" or according to Obama's wishes.
System of checks and balances are imposed on the President by congress
Also, unlike UK, Obama was not elected as the party leader, rather he was elected by public to be president
At a national level, what is the only manifestation of party structure?
The Democartic and Republican National Committees both have offices in Washington DC
Current Chair of Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee?
DNC Chair - Debbie Schultz
RNC Chair - Reince Priebus
What is the role of National Committees?
They organise the parties National Conventions
What are National Conventions?
Part of the electoral process
Held in august in recent years
Have to show their parties at their very best as the media coverage of the events is immense
Why were the past two national conventions for each party very important?
Very important as they announced who had won the party ticket and who would represent the party in a presidential election-
The running mate would also be announced
Why have National Conventions been considered unimportant?
Difficult to think that conventions made up of 2000 and 4000 people, meeting four days every four years could exercise much influence or be responsible for much
What are Congressional committees?
What/Who achieved something in 2002
Committees in both houses of congress overseeing policy and campaigning.
Then chair of national republican senatorial committee, senator Bill Frist was given ,much of the credit for Republicans successful 2002 midterm election campaign when the party regained control of the senate
Describe and explain state level organisation?
Everything else to do with parties is at state level and considerable power is vested in the states
How do states influence National conventions?
National conventions are merely the coming together of state parties chosen by state run primaries
What are state and local parties dominated by
Issue activist- people committed to particular issue such as civil rights
candidate activists- people who have entered politics through working on campaign of candidate
Which characters from popular book have the two main parties been compared to?
Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee- always arguing about differences when actually just the same
Three commentators quotes on party decline?
David Broder "The Party's Over: The failure of politics in America
Dennis Brogan "like two bottles with different labels, both empty"
Ruth Scott "The Decline of American Political Parties"
Why has it been claimed that parties have lost control of their presidential candidates?
Up until late 1960s it was down to party bosses in smoke filled rooms to select their party's candidate for presidency
However now primaries are the only route to becoming president whereas before in the 50s and 60s, primaries were virtually unheard of except in some states to nominate presidential candidates and despite the fact system thought of elitist/undemocratic/potentially corrupt andnon participatory, it was still down to party bosses
However system was reformed after Democratic Party National Party Convention of 1968
What reforms to the presidential selection process did the Democratic party introduce
McGovern- Fraser Commission recommended reforms to the presidential nomination process; led to increased state held primaries from 1972 onwards
What did Broder say about the reformed nomination process?
Any way you look at it, it's madness
What traditional function has it been claimed the party has lost?
The communicator between politicians and voters
Used to hold party rallys when politicians wanted to get support and voters could question them formally or heckle
Instead today message largely conveyed via television to the public and public respond with opinion polls
Role of party cut out
How have the campaigns on television changed and led to theories of party decline?
Campaigns on television much less party focused and instead more candidate focused
John McCain accused Obama of links with terroism and also of not being a US citizen- negative campaigning aimed at candidate rather than whole party
What do voters tend to cast ballots for now, instead of parties?
voters tend to cast ballots, not in support of the party, but because they feel a strong attachment to a candidate,
many would have voted for Obama in 2008 because of his promises on health care reforms, the closing of Guantanamo Bay and promise to end war in Iraq- therefore they were supporting issues he was espousing, rather than the ideology of the party in general.
Example of group who traditionally supported party but switched because of candidate
Hispanics who traditionally have favoured the Democrats, in 2000 supported Republican George W Bush because he reached out to them.
Reasons why people may have voted for Obama in 2008 (party decline)
Because of his promises of health care reforms
Closure of Guantanamo Bay
Ending war in Iraq
Supporting his policies rather than his party's
What is split ticket voting and how can it occur?
Split ticket voting is a result of candidate/issue based voting
Occurs when someone votes for candidates of different parties for different offices in the same election
People traditionally like a Republican President and a Congress controlled by the Democrats- because Republicans offer lower taxes while Democratic Senators at state level offer welfare policies etc
Best of both worlds
What other kind of voter, apart from split ticket, fuelled theories of party decline?
Independent voters, voting for neither main party
Why may Congressmen/women not vote along party lines in Congress?
Vote on bills to appease their electorate rather than support their party - result of geography of state they represent
Eg A Democrat in the south may vote more conservatively than a Democrat in the North
Priority is to keep their constituents happy as they are the reason they're there in first place
What are people more likely to join now, instead of parties, if they want to get involved in an issue and why?
Because Parties are now considered to be too vague and broad in their political outlook, why people want to become involved in a specific political issue instead such as Pro Life, they are more likely to join a Pressure Group rather than the Democratic Party
In terms of party decline, how is the US similar to the UK
People's psychological attachment to parties is in decline and suggests a more fickle electorate more likely to shift their loyalty depending on issues presented
Like in the UK- more likely to vote based on rational choice rather than party affiliation
Quickly suggest 6 reasons for the suggestion of party decline
- Number of political commentators have written about it in detail
- They have suggested that changes to the nomination process of President is a reason
- Also suggested people more likely to vote based on candidates/issues rather than parties
- Role of the media focuses more on candidate rather than party campaign
- increasing number of split ticket/independent voters
- changing pattern of voting behaviour
When were theories of party decline popular and what have people been saying about them now?
Popular in the 70s and 80s, however may have been exaggerated and their are now theories of party renewal
Reason for suggestion that Party Decline had been exaggerated?
Although parties may be less important than once were- still pay important role in US politics
Democratic Party first to have African-American in Whitehouse
Further, if parties were no longer important, why do politically minded continue to join them, surely Obama would have ran successfully as an independent if the parties were in such obvious decline
Still hold enough political influence over USA
What other political deaths have been reported apart from that of the party?
Death of Republican Party after Watergate and Nixon's resignation- however back in White House in just 6 years
Death of Democratic Party reported after break up of solid south and shift to left in 60s 70s and 80s- However, with New Democrats came Bill Clinton who survived two full terms as President
How have the Democratic Party tried to renew its role in the nomination process
Created Super Delegates- elected officio holders given seats at the Democrat National Convention- by 2000 super delegates accounted for 20% of the delegate votes in DNC
How was George W Bush win in 2000 also an example of party renewal?
He was preferred choice of party officials and triumphed over the preferred choice of the popular vote, John McCain
Therefore fact Bush enjoyed significant support from party officials still counted for a lot in the nomination process
How does soft money help the parties in renewal?
provides the party with money which increases their role significantly as it stopped money going directly to candidates instead of parties
What did the Republican's do with their election campaign in 2000 and 2002 midterms which fuelled party renewal?
Nationalised their election campain- contract with America which nearly all Republican Party Candidates supported- showed party still had ability to come together without whipping system of USA
Two reasons for two party dominance?
- First past the post electoral system means that even though third parties normally win a fraction of the vote in each election, winner takes all system of USA means that they get no reward for it because their percentage of the vote isn't enough
- Parties both encompass large ideological spectrum meaning that third parties don't really offer anything different- mainly just offer extremism in one issue and Americans have always been suspicious of extremist views and so disadvantage to them
- If people want to join group because of single issue= pressure groups
What is a disadvantage to third parties in terms of qualifying for matching funds?
To qualify for matching funds a third party candidate must have got at least 5% of the vote in the last election compared to a major party candidate who need only raise £5000
Why is it a difficult request to ask third party candidates to have at least 5% of vote in last election?
Many third parties are temporary and so don't tend to stand for election more than once making it impossible for them to have gained 5% in last election
How many third parties have managed to qualify for matching funds?
3 in last 50 years and last was Ross Perot in 1996
How can states be challenging to third parties?
Laws about how they get on ballot- New York must have a certain number of signatures from each county of state before name gets put on ballot
Cost John Anderson $3 million to get his name on every ballot in the US in 1980
If they qualify for matching funds, what normally happens to the money they get?
Instead of going towards their campaign, usually goes to cost of getting name on ballot and people less likely to give money to party they know is going to lose so its a catch 22
What other disadvantage do third parties have to deal with?
Lack of media coverage as can rarely afford cost of making, let alone airing, commercials and candidates normally barred from appearing on State and National television debates
Why might third parties not care about presidency?
instead want to influence political debate and have managed to do that
in 2000, people who voted for Nader were exclusively Democrat voters- took votes away from Gore and reason Republicans won
Third Parties can also influence the political agenda of Main parties
What are the different types of Third Party?
Temporary issue based/ideological
Green Party = issue based
Socialist = ideological
American Independent Party = regional
In terms of third parties what does the US not have
Permanent third parties regularly winning sizeable proportion of election