Advanced Placement®
American Government and Politics
Unit III – Political Parties (8) and
Interest Groups (11)
Part 1 – Political Parties
Political Parties
• a group that seeks to elect candidates to public office by
supplying them with a label (party ID)
• “Three-headed political giant”
• Party-in-the-electorate
(voters who identify with a
party; no dues, no cards, just
a claim)
• Party-as-organization
(national office, staff, rules, budgets)
• Party-in-government (elected officials who claim
membership in the party)
• We reaffirm America’s commitment to
Israel’s security and will ensure that Israel
maintains a qualitative edge in military
technology over any potential adversaries.
Political Parties
Tasks of the Parties
• Linkage Institution: the channels through which
people’s concerns become political issues on the
government’s policy agenda
• Parties Pick Candidates
• Parties Run Campaigns
• Parties Give Cues to
• Parties Articulate Policies
• Parties Coordinate
“A close look at five key domestic agenda items
suggests that Tennesseans as a group hardly
qualify as well-informed and ideologically
consistent policy wonks. On four of the five
issues, only about half of a given candidate’s
supporters hold opinions consistent with those
of the candidate."
-- Middle Tennessee State University
Rational Choice Theory:
• Parties/politicians have
pragmatic goals that
matter more to the party
than ideology (such as
winning); and so, they’ll
pursue goals with mass
public appeal
• Given the restrictions of
American political culture,
it’s hard for two main
parties to differentiate
themselves; but that’s
what they have to do, to
build voter loyalty
• Since, nationally, women still earn only 70% of men's wages
for equal jobs, we call for the introduction and passage of
federal and state laws to achieve pay equity, and funding for
the enforcement of such laws.
The Party in the Electorate (YOU!)
For the electorate the party is a:
• Brand or label
• Organization which recruits and campaigns
for candidates
• Set of leaders that organize/try to control
legislative & executive branch
American parties are weaker in all 3 areas
• more independent /split-ticket voting
• as leaders, parties still sort of strong
• as organizations, parties are weaker since
• working to overhaul the “No Child Left
Behind” program and provide teachers with
more professional support and resources—
while also holding them accountable
National Party Structure Today
• Parties similar on paper
• National convention meets every 4 yrs. to
nominate pres. candidate
• National committee: comprised of state
delegates; manages affairs b/w conventions
National Party Structure Today
The National
The Congressional
The National
The National
All four elements of both major parties work
together loosely to achieve the party’s goals.
The 50 State Party System
50 of em’, no two alike; some weak (CA), some
strong (PA)
States decide who participates in nominations
• Closed primaries: Only people who have
registered with the party can vote for that party’s
• Open primaries: Voters decide on Election Day
whether they want to vote in the Democrat or
Republican primary
• Blanket primaries: Voters are presented with a
list of candidates from all parties
• Government regulation and subsidy constitutes a threat to
both the quality and availability of patient-oriented health
care and treatment.
National Political Party Conventions
• National comm. sets time/place, uses formula to
allocate delegates
• Dems: formula shifts delegates away from South,
to North & West (Dems thus move left; rewards
large states)
• Repubs: formula shifts delegates
away from East, to South &
Southwest (Repubs thus move
right; rewards loyal states)
• Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or
gender identity should have no impact on the
government's treatment of individuals, such as
in current marriage, child custody, adoption,
immigration or military service laws.
Local Politics
Party Machines: a type of political party organization
that relies heavily on material inducements to win
votes and to govern
Patronage: a job, promotion or contract given for
political reasons rather than merit; used by party
Due to progressive reforms, urban party
organizations are generally weak
• Civil Service Reform, voter registration, etc.
Revitalization of party organization at county level
State and Local Party Machinery
State and local party organization varies from State
to State, but usually follow the general principles
Minor Parties / 3rd Parties in the United
Types of Minor Parties
Economic Protest
Free Soil
Example: The
Greenback Party
• Adoption of a law clarifying that the 14th
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not
give automatic U.S. citizenship to a child born
on U.S. soil to illegal alien parents.
Minor Parties / 3rd Parties
• Third parties: electoral contenders other then
the two party parties; rarely win elections (can
play spoiler – Ralph Nader {Green Party} and Al
Gore {Democrats} in 2000)
Third parties are important -- (WHY???)
• Are “safety valves” for popular discontent
• Bring new groups and ideas into politics
• An orderly, controlled border and an
immigration system designed to meet our
economic needs are important pillars of a
healthy and robust economy.
Party Eras in American History
Party Eras
Historical periods in which
majority of votes cling to
party in power
Critical Election
An electoral “earthquake”
new issues and new
coalitions emerge
Party Realignment
The displacement of the majority
party by the minority party, usually
during a critical election
Party Dealignment
Movement away from both political parties
A very brief history of political parties in
• no party mentioned in constitution
• Factions
• groups pursuing some common political
Pre-Party Era
considered both inevitable and dangerous
• (see Federalist #10)
factions not yet parties
A very brief history of political parties in
"They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and
extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated
will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but
Pre-Party Era artful and enterprising minority of the community; and,
according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to
make the public administration the mirror of the illconcerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than
the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by
common counsels, and modified by mutual interests."
-- GW’s Farwell Address (i.e. letter)
In other words, he warned of the danger of political
parties, and how they would turn the government from
a group of people interested in their nation's future to a
rabbling mob of power hungry professional politicians
In short, he opposed political parties
• Because the family is our basic unit of society, we fully
support parental rights to consent to medical treatment for
their children including mental health treatment, drug
treatment, alcohol treatment, and treatment involving
pregnancy, contraceptives and abortion.
A very brief history of political parties in
Federalists v. Democratic-Republicans
• Led by A. Hamilton, Federalists supported a strong
fed gov. and national bank
• Support >> financial, commercial,
The First Party
• Led by TJ and James Madison, Dem-Republicans
supported limited gov. and no national bank
1796 - 1824
• Support >> farmers, shopkeepers, laborers,
• Election of 1800 (Critical)
• >>> 1st time a party in power peacefully gave
up power
• TJ and VP Burr tie
• 12 Amendment separates the Electoral
College (election decided by the House)
• Eliminate federal deficits without using excess trust funds
from Social Security, Medicare, Highway, and other trusts to
balance the budget.
A very brief history of political parties in
Jackson and the Democrats
• Election of 1828 (Critical)
Second Party • Democrats organized around Jackson; Whigs
made up of everyone who didn’t like Jackson
(northern industrialists / southern planters)
1828 - 1856
A very brief history of political parties in
• Slavery dominates American politics during 1850s
• Splits Democrats and led to demise of the
Republican Era
1860 - 1928
Election of 1860 (Critical)
Led by A. Lincoln, Republican Party emerges as the
most dynamic antislavery party and becomes the
only party to make the transition from minor to
Democrats survive the Civil War by becoming the
dominant party in the South
• “Solid South” fixture in American politics for
100 years
• If somebody is in this country illegally, then he or she should
be deported if caught. However, it is not realistic in terms of
manpower and resources to attempt to hunt illegal immigrants
down. We propose the following: Offer illegal immigrants the
opportunity for citizenship if they join the military and serve
out their initial contractual term honorably.
A very brief history of political parties in
• Election of 1896 (Critical)
• Led by William Jennings Bryan, a Democratic
Republican Era
1860 - 1928
coalition of small Western farmers and
emerging labor unions advocated free silver
and regulations to control the RRs
• Led by William McKinley, a Republican
coalition of industrialists, financial
monopolies, and small businesspeople backed
a gold standard, high tariffs, and
industrialization with no regulations
McKinley’s victory enabled the Republicans to
remain America’s majority party until the Great
A very brief history of political parties in
• Republican handling of Great Depression dooms
The New Deal
1932 - 1964
them in election of 1932 (Critical)
Led by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the revived
Democrats advocated a program of relief,
recovery, and reform known as the New Deal
FDR builds new Democratic coalition – Urban
dwellers, Labor unions, Catholics, Persons of
Jewish faith, Southerners, and African Americans
• Note: urban dwellers and African Americans
had been important part of Republican
• This major party realignment continues to
the present day
New Deal coalition did not include Northern
business leaders and wealthy industrialists
A very brief history of political parties in
• Divided government: one party controls Congress
and the other controls White House
Election of Richard Nixon – 1968 (Critical ? )
• Republican dominance in presidential politics
The Era of
• Exception of Carter, Repubs held WH from
Divided Party
69’ – 93’
1968 – Almost • Beginning in 1968, Repubs adopt “Southern
strategy” designed to break Dems hold on the
• Party realignment gradually occurs as Southern
conservatives transfer loyalty to the Repubs
• By 2008, Republicans held the majority of
Southern House and Senate seats
A very brief history of political parties in
• Pattern of divided gov. has dominated American
The Era of
Divided Party
1968 – Almost
politics since Nixon
• From 69’ – 10’ the same party has controlled
both houses of Congress and the presidency
for just 12 years
Divided government has had a number of
• Heightened partisanship has made it more
difficult for moderates to negotiate
• Slowed both the confirmation and the
legislative process -- creating gridlock
• Increased public frustration, contributing to
the decline in trust and confidence in
A very brief history of political parties in
• Last half century has witnessed a decline in the
Today 2012
percentage of voters who identity themselves as
Democrat or Republican and a rise in the number
of voters who identity themselves as
• Result: Significant increase in “split-ticket”
• Voters who support candidates of different
parties on the same ballot
Divided government due in part to:
• Erosion of the “Solid [Democratic] South”
• Party dealignment
Divided Government
The Democratic Donkey and the Republican
Elephant (colors came in 2000)
• Democratic donkey first associated with Democrat
Andrew Jackson's 1828 presidential campaign
• opponents called him a jackass (a donkey), and
Jackson decided to use the image of the strong-willed
animal on his campaign posters
• later, cartoonist Thomas Nast used the Democratic
donkey in newspaper cartoons and made the symbol
• Nast invented another famous symbol -- the Republican
• A cartoon that appeared in Harper's Weekly in 1874,
Nast drew a donkey clothed in lion's skin, scaring
away all the animals at the zoo
• One of those animals, the elephant, was labeled “The
Republican Vote” -- that's all it took for the elephant
to become associated with the Republican Party
• Removal from the electoral system of the
financial contributions of monopolies, to be
replaced by public funding and guarantees of
honest elections where each vote counts and
all votes are counted
The United States two-party system
• Rare among nations (only 15
nations have it)
• Evenly balanced nationally,
not locally
• Why has it endured so long?
• voter opinion (“two
broad coalitions work,
though it creates bitter
• state
laws make it difficult for 3rd
to get on ballot
• BUT MAINLY, it’s the electoral system: “winnertake-all” and plurality system limit the # of parties
• Single-member Districts – only one candidate is
elected to each office on the ballot
What is Plurality?
• in elections for President, Congress, most state
elections, the winner is he/she who receives the
MOST votes, not MAJORITY (50% +1)
• no proportionality (proportionality systems give
political seats in proportion to the votes cast for
each party)
Proportional Representation
• Parliamentary systems sometimes unstable
• Why?
• harder for 1 party to get a majority
• causes coalition governments, which usually
give disproportional influence to minor
parties who join government (ex., Germany,
German Coalition Government
Christian Democratic Union
Christian Social Union
Free Democratic Party
German Opposition Parties
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Left
Alliance '90 / The Greens
Alternative Elections
Runoff elections: (Example – France)
• 1st election: candidates
who get absolute majority
are elected; later, candidates
who get at least 1/8th but less
than ½ go into runoff; those
who get absolute majority are
also elected)
• Effect: every party must be as
broadly based as
• Since even the
smallest party
can win something,
everyone has
incentive to organize
• We call for a constitutional amendment
abolishing the Electoral College and providing
for the direct election of the president by
Instant Runoff Voting.
Democracy and Responsible Party
Responsible Party Model
1. Parties have distinct
comprehensive programs
2. Candidates are committed
to the program
3. The majority party must carry out its program
4. The majority party must accept responsibility
• American political
parties fall short of
these conditions
American Political Parties and the
Scope of Government
• Lack of uniformity keeps government small
• But also makes cutting government programs
• Individuals focus on
getting more from
government for their
own constituents
Is the Party Over?
• Political parties are no
longer main source of
information for voters;
media is
• Yet parties will play an
important but diminished
role in American politics
• State and national party
organizations have become
more visible and active
• Majority of people still identify with a party