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Dr Simon Boucher ~ Primary Reaction ----- US Political Parties Government and Politics of the USA Week 3 HT:

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1 Dr Simon Boucher ~ Primary Reaction ----- US Political Parties Government and Politics of the USA Week 3 HT:

2 Michaelmas Term Essay Feedback What does this means for Obama? What does this means for Hillary? What does this means for Edwards? Essays will be handed back in your tutorials this / next week. Overall: Good standard. But… Read the question Stick to the word limit Give more thought to introductions, structure, and conclusions Reference more thoroughly Read more

3 Hillary Term Essay What does this means for Obama? What does this means for Hillary? What does this means for Edwards? Deadline: 5pm, Monday 10 th of March (Hillary term wk 10) Submit essay online via and hard copy to Jane Suiter (details to follow) Choose from 1 of 3 titles; strict 2,000 word limit… –“In practice, Congress functions not as a unified institution, but as a collection of semi-autonomous committees that seldom act in unison." Discuss this view, and explain your response. –What are the consequences of pluralism and federalism for the policy-making process in the US? Evaluate these consequences with reference to at least two policy areas. –An essay on elections; title TBD next week Details will be posted on course website and via email

4 Login Login | Register | RSS Register RSS Hillary – Shoring up her constituencies Obama – Slightly disappointing. “Movement” not taking off? Edwards – Relegated to king-maker role? (If he lasts that long…) Nevada Clinton 51 Obama 45 Edwards 4 The Democrats last week Themes and issues Nastiness to continue? Candidates running short of money? Continue to disagree over tone, rather than fundamental issues Demographics splitting between the candidates Economic problems benefitting Hillary?

5 The Democrats: next up… South Carolina next Saturday– Obama expected to win, needs to win Fortunate timing for him? Florida – Tuesday week, Jan 29 th ; Clinton in lead

6 Login Login | Register | RSS Register RSS McCain – Big night. Recreated NH success in SC Romney – At least he’s winning Giuliani – Slipping all the time Huckabee – Major blow; the big loser in SC Thompson – The end is nigh. Who’ll he endorse? Nevada South Carolina McCain 1333 Romney 5115 Giuliani 42 Huckabee 830 Thompson 816 The Republicans last week Themes and issues Still searching for a real front-runner Florida will dictate momentum into Super Tuesday

7 The Republicans: next up… 2 minor contests next- Louisiana (Jan 22 nd ) and Hawaii (Jan 25 th ) All eyes really on Florida (Tuesday 29 th ) – what can Rudy do? Or McCain confirmed as out-and-out front runner?

8 Vs US Political Parties

9 Required reading… McKay: ch 5: “The Changing Role of American Parties” Singh (ed) ch 5: “Political parties and the party system” Additional resources… David R Mayhew: Placing Parties in American Politics (Princeton), chs. 8, 10, 11 (LEN 320.973 M62) Sandy Maisel: The Parties Respond, chs 1, 5, 6, and 16. (ARTS 320.973 N4) John H Aldrich: Why Parties: The Origins and Transformation of Political Parties in America (LEN 320.973 N58;2) John C Green and Rick Farmer: The State of the Parties, Ch 1, 20 and 22 (320.973 N62*3) Readings on US Political Parties

10 What is a Political Party? Undisputedly necessary part of a democratic system of government The principal link between the public and office holding politicians Key functions: –Aggregate demands –Reconcile social groups –Staff the government –Coordinate governmental institutions –Promote political stability –Provides common labels

11 Framers thought parties exerted a negative influence on politics Washington specifically warned against parties in his 1796 farewell address Quickly became apparent that politics without parties was unrealistic Divided systems of federalism and separated powers meant some form of connecting glue between politicians at each level was required 1 st parties contested elections in 1800 Constitutional and Historical Foundation Deliberately omitted from the Constitution

12 American Exceptionalism Always just 2 parties, which have remained remarkably moderate and non-ideological over time Tend to be very broad coalitions of interests that promise general rather than specific benefits There is no overall party programme which candidates adopt- facilitates ideological looseness US parties lack strong central leadership: e.g. leaders and activists frequently do not select electoral candidates US parties lack mass-membership of dues-paying individuals; money comes from fund-raising States regulate parties to a distinctive degree, notably through the regulation of primary elections

13 American Exceptionalism Traditional Distinctions between US and European Parties Are US political parties particularly weak? Or are we holding them to the wrong standards? Do they serve different functions? USEurope OrganisationWeakStrong InterestsDisparate, manyFew, coherent Policies Few, general policies. Lack “programme” Clear manifestos. Structured, specific options Candidate personalityVery importantLess important Internal DisciplineWeakStrong ImageNebulousDistinct

14 A Force of Cohesiveness and Division US politics urgently needs cohesive parties due to: The diversity of US society The geographic size of the US Separation of powers Federalism Encourage inter-party conflict Give voice to significant divisions between Americans over public policy Create connections between politicians in different branches / at different levels of govt Establish common ground between different voters Promote governmental coherence; encourage intra- party consensus US parties: a unifying forceUS parties: a divisive force

15 The Democrats SINCE WHEN? The oldest party in continuous existence in the world, traced to the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson in 1800 WHO? Its coalition often includes less socially, economically and educationally privileged supporters, minorities, women HOW BIG? The largest political party since 2004, with 42.6% percent of 169 million registered voters claiming affiliation WHERE? Metropolitan areas, North East, Great Lakes, West coast WHAT POLICIES? Since 1912 its policies have been typically more liberal / centrist than the Republicans’ (e.g. support of social programmes, anti-war, environmental concerns) CURRENT POSITION? Since 2006 the Democrats have had a majority in the House and Senate. Democrats also hold a majority of state governorships and control a plurality of state legislatures

16 The Republicans SINCE WHEN? Formed in 1854 before the civil war by groups who opposed slavery WHO? Traditionally a coalition of wealthier, conservative and better-educated Americans. Now a mix of Southern conservatives, older white males, white nuclear families, evangelical Christians and big business HOW BIG? 55m registered members in 2006 – 32% of registered voters WHERE? The South, Midwest, rural areas, wealthy white suburbs WHAT POLICIES? More conservative on most issues than the Democrats. Particularly national security, social issues, immigration reform, taxation, federalism CURRENT POSITION? “Conservative Ascendancy” - Held House of Representatives from 1994 to 2006. Held Senate from 2002 to 2006. Held Presidency since 2000.

17 Party Affiliation circa 2006

18 Third Parties Despite criticism of US parties / discussion of their decline, a 3 rd party has never emerged with genuine, consistent electoral strength 3 rd party candidates have occasionally done well, but their parties have not- typically represent a protest vote Barriers to 3 rd parties include: –Institutional factors –Credibility –Cultural factors When 3 rd parties are successful… –Tends to be because a sizeable minority’s interests are ignored by the 2 main parties –The major parties modify their offering and swallow disaffected interests

19 Core Concept: Partisan Realignment Proposed by V. O. Key Jnr. in 1955 An explanation of occasional upheavals in party systems which are otherwise characterised by long-term stability Involves the long-term transfer of majority status from one party to another, accompanied by general system change Political conflict becomes particularly intense in these periods Cause is unclear - new issues in society, taken on by social groups? Or provoked by party strategists? Now media moots the possibility of a realignment every election – concept demeaned somewhat

20 The Development of US Political Parties WhenPeriodDescription 1800-241 st Party System Factional conflict over economic and foreign policy 1824-56 The Jacksonian System Development of mass politics. Emergence of North/South tension 1856-96 The Post-Civil War System Parties similar on most issues, but differed on ethnic / geographic lines 1896-1932The System of 1896 Economic upheaval briefly led to Populist party, progressive reform 1932-68The New Deal Parties differed over the (mainly social) policies of FDR’s “New Deal” 1968-80 Divided Government Civil rights, foreign policy, social issues salient. Dems in Congress, GOP in WH 1980-2006 Conservative Ascendancy Reagan, Gingrich then Rove/Bush appeared to establish GOP dominance

21 Traditional Party Structure Precinct Ward District County Congressional District State National Committee

22 Traditional “Machine Politics” Offices Jobs & money Workers Votes “5 Things all Successful Parties Need” … Machine politics very important until 1960s

23 Decline of US Political Parties? Political Scientists have bemoaned party decline since 1950s Traditional influence / roles undermined by… –Reform of internal rules, e.g. over candidate selection –Emergence of the welfare state & professional bureaucracy –Emergence of competitor organisations –Emergence of mass media –Growth of interest groups Decline measured in terms of… –Party identification, membership, organisation, control over candidate nominations, ideological cohesion, turnout Political party decline leads to… –Inefficient government –The erosion of institutional legitimacy However from mid 1970s growth of independent voters levelled off. Plus many who call themselves independents are actually partisan

24 Outcomes of Party Reform 1968 reforms switched selection of presidential candidates from party leaders (“smoke filled rooms”) to the people through primaries Intended outcomes: –Democratised the process –Reduced the power of party bosses (and hence parties) Unintended outcomes: –Candidates became strong campaigners, but not necessarily strong executives –Candidates tended to reflect narrow interests, unappealing to most of the population –Increased the role and power of the media Reforms particularly affected the Democrats as they had less internal cohesion in the first place

25 National Committees – DNC & RNC Very ad hoc until 1970s, much more important today – acquired range of resources and powers RNC staff 30 in 1972, 600 in 1994. Current RNC budget over $100m PA DNC rivalled RNC in size and influence by early 2000s Expansion driven by “soft money” contributions Growing influence of National Committees also trickled down influence to State-level committees The new role of the NC’s is to provide services / resources to local party and candidate-specific organisations

26 Contemporary trends Parties HAVE DECLINED in that: They have fewer members Old-style machine politics is a thing of the past Parties HAVE NOT DECLINED in that they: Continue to be important in government Remain an indicator of political behaviour Parties HAVE CHANGED in that they: Have ceased to perform some traditional functions Perform entirely new functions Are more centrally organised Exploit IT and the media to a greater extent Are more ideologically focused

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