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Campaigns and Elections

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1 Campaigns and Elections
Chapter 8 Campaigns and Elections

2 Campaigns and Elections
Introduction: An election campaign is a complex event involving many actors. The Voters Perspective: To Vote or Not to Vote Introduction Interest in politics increases around major elections. Few Americans become involved in campaigns beyond casual interest and discussion. Voting is the most frequent meaningful act of political participation.

3 Voter Eligibility Historical restrictions: Race Sex
The Fifteenth Amendment granted voting rights to African Americans. Jim Crow laws – such as the literacy test, poll tax, grandfather clause, and white primary – continued to deny African Americans the right to vote in the South. These barriers were eliminated by constitutional amendments, Supreme Court decisions, and legislative acts. Sex Gender based restrictions on voting were eliminated by the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted female suffrage. The Twenty-sixth Amendment reduced the voting age from 21 to 18.

4 Voting Turnout by Family Income, 2008 and Presidential Voting Choice by Income, 2008

5 Voter Eligibility Today, voting restrictions can exclude noncitizens, felons, mental patients, and those who don’t meet residency requirements (now limited to 30 days). Registration Mail-in and election day registration opportunities increase voter turnout. Democrats tend to favor making registration easier, while Republicans typically oppose it. Originally, registration was intended to prevent voter fraud.

6 Who Votes? Social Characteristics Psychological Influences
There is now a general convergence in voting rates among various types of citizens. Older people, more educated people, and people with higher incomes are all more likely to vote. Psychological Influences The greater a person’s interest in politics and sense of political efficacy, the more likely that person will vote. The stronger a person’s attachment to a political party, the more likely that person will vote. Offices and Elections Turnout is high for high-stimulus elections and low for low- stimulus elections.

7 Declining Turnout While voter turnout has varied since the late nineteenth century, it is now at one of its lowest low points. Decline in turnout has been attributed to registration and voting procedures, political alienation, decreasing partisanship, and low political efficacy. Whether low voter turnout has a negative impact on democracy has been a matter of debate.

8 Turnout in Presidential and Congressional Elections, 1790-2010
Since the end of the nineteenth century, the long- term historical trend has been downward. Turnout for midterm congressional elections is lower than in presidential elections.

9 The Voter’s Perspective: How to Vote
Parties For many years, affiliation with a political party was the mainstay of decision making in voting. Since the role of the party has weakened, this is no longer as important a determinant in voting decisions. This has left room for candidate characteristics and issues to have an impact on decision making. Candidates Opinions about candidates themselves play a powerful role in influencing voters. Voters emphasize political experience, effective leadership, and attractive personal qualities.

10 The Voter’s Perspective: How to Vote (continued)
Issues Issues now affect voting choice more than ever before. Economic issues, especially those related to personal well-being, greatly affect voting choice. Ideology also has some effect on voting choice. Conclusion Parties, issues, and candidates are related in complex ways as they all influence the vote during presidential elections.

11 The Economy and Presidential Voting
The better the economy, the better the candidate of the incumbent party does in the presidential election. The diagonal line shows the basic trend in the relationship—that is, how much, on average, voting is related to improvements in the economy. In 2008, the economy was the number one issue mentioned by voters in pre-election polls. Thus, it should not be surprising that the candidate representing the incumbent party lost in a landslide.

12 The Candidate’s Perspective: Running for President
Who runs for president? Constitutional qualifications* include the following: Natural-born citizenship A 14-year residency Being at age 35 Limitation to two terms *(According to the Twenty-second Amendment). Other qualifications might include the following: Experience in a high political office (or being an incumbent) Being on the successful side of mainstream America Having a clean personal and political reputation Having an attractive image Most importantly—one’s determination

13 The Media Campaign Candidates’ principal concern now is mobilizing the media. Free television time is gained through the use of interviews and short “sound bites.” Candidates have come to rely on professional media consultants to plan campaign strategy. The media focus has turned towards opinion polls and the “horse race” aspects of a campaign.

14 Percentage of Voting-Age Population that Votes in Twenty-One Western Countries
The United States ranks near the bottom of democratic countries in the percentage of the voting-age population that actually votes, primarily because it places more obstacles in front of the voter and offers fewer incentives to the voters.

15 Financing the Campaign
The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) requires disclosure of funding sources and puts limits on campaign contributions and candidate spending. The Revenue Act of 1971 allows taxpayers to contribute to Presidential Election Campaign Funds. Major-party candidates can opt for federal financing if they refuse public contributions after the convention. The “soft-money” loophole provides a means to raise unlimited amounts of money at the state and local level that can indirectly be used for the presidential campaign.

16 Getting Nominated Party caucuses have recently gained in importance, particularly the early Iowa caucus. Primary elections are elections that select party nominees for the general election. Open primaries allow any voter to participate, regardless of party affiliation. Closed primaries restrict participation to just members of a specific party. The earliest presidential primaries are the most important in sorting out potential candidates. The party conventions select party nominees, draft rules, and write the party platform.

17 Choosing a Running Mate
The vice-presidential nominee is usually chosen to balance the ticket. The choice of a running mate is made by the presidential candidate. The vice president is less an object of scorn than in the past. The vice-presidency is often the most direct path to the presidency.

18 Getting Elected The president is elected indirectly through the electoral college, in which each state has electors equal to the number of representatives and senators from that state, thus setting the stage for an emphasis on large states in the campaign. Candidates seek to instill an image in the minds of the voters, giving incumbents a distinct advantage. Candidates must decide on whether to confront or evade issues. Debates are risky for an incumbent but can be the best strategic opportunity for a non-incumbent. Campaign strategy is at the mercy of events that can make a candidate look either inept or “presidential.”

19 Proposals to Reform Electoral Mechanics Include the Following:
Shifting to one national primary or a series of regional primaries Replacing the electoral college with a direct popular election of the president or a congressional district winner-take-all system Changing the two-term limit placed on presidents

20 The Candidate’s Perspective: Running for Congress
Campaign Financing House and Senate elections have become very expensive. There is no public financing for congressional campaigns. There have been efforts to get around restrictions imposed by federal campaign finance laws. Money helps challengers more than office holders.

21 The Candidate’s Perspective: Running for Congress (continued)
Incumbency Incumbency is even more an asset to members of Congress, especially in the House, than it is to presidents. Five out of six congressional districts are safe seats. Incumbents Are better known Can take credit for all beneficial activity the federal government undertakes in their states and districts Can raise money easier Can use the resources of their offices, such as franking privilege, to get reelected

22 The Candidate’s Perspective: Running for Congress (continued)
Parties, Candidates, and Issues in Voting for Congress After incumbency, the single most important determining factor when it comes to voting in congressional elections is party. Except for those related to the economy, issues are of little importance in congressional elections due to the lack of information. Candidates for the House are judged on the qualities of trust and competence, while Senate candidates are judged in terms of experience and ability.

23 Presidential Popularity
When congressional elections coincide with a presidential election, a presidential candidate who is popular can help his party’s congressional candidates. This is referred to as “having coattails.” In midterm elections, the congressional vote may also be interpreted as a referendum on how well the president is doing. The president’s party, historically, loses seats in midterm elections.

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