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Unit 2 Political Behavior Political Parties A political party is a group of people who try to control government by winning elections and holding public.

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Presentation on theme: "Unit 2 Political Behavior Political Parties A political party is a group of people who try to control government by winning elections and holding public."— Presentation transcript:


2 Unit 2 Political Behavior

3 Political Parties A political party is a group of people who try to control government by winning elections and holding public offices. The United States has 2 major political parties; the Democrats and the Republicans. Political parties help link the people and their wishes to the government action. Parties help unify the people by finding compromise among contending views.

4 Functions of Political Parties Nominate candidates Inform & inspire voters Ensure candidate quality Help govern Act as a watchdog They conduct much of the business of government based on partisanship or allegiance to political party.

5 Why a two-party system? HistoryTradition Single member district elections in which voters choose one candidate for office favor a two-party system Consensus –Americans usually agree on key matters Election law, generally made by Democrats and Republicans together, discourages minor parties

6 Minor Parties In American history there have been 4 types of minor parties: 1. Ideological parties – based on certain social, economic, or political ideas; not powerful but long lasting 2. Single-issue parties – focus on one public policy matter; fade away once issue is resolved 3. Economic Protest parties - appear during tough financial times; criticize the economic actions and plans of the major parties 4. Splinter parties – break away from a major party; usually have a strong leader who lost a major party’s nomination

7 Most States hold elections for state offices on the same day Congress has set – the Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even- numbered years. Off-year elections occur in the years between presidential elections A Coattail effect occurs when a strong candidate running for office on the ballot attracts voters to other candidates on the party’s ticket

8 In most States, nearly all elected school and municipal offices are filled through nonpartisan elections – elections in which candidates are not identified by party.

9 Voting “Lingo” Suffrage – right to vote Franchise – right to vote Eligible – people eligible to vote Registration – act of signing up to vote Poll books – official list of registered voters Poll tax – fee paid to vote, illegal today Literacy test – reading test taken to vote, illegal today

10 Precinct – voting district Polling place – place where voters vote Ballot – device by which voters register their choices Australian ballot – lists the names of all candidates, given only at polls, marked in secret Absentee voting – early voting (mail) by those unable to get to their regular voting places

11 Voter Qualifications States decide voter qualifications Registration is required by 49 states State citizenship is required by all states Most states require an average of 30 days residence The minimum age to vote is 18 Most states deny voting rights to anyone convicted of a serious crime. No state allows voting rights to anyone in a mental institution or legally considered mentally incompetent.

12 Voting Rights Amendments 15 th Amendment – states cannot use race to determine who can vote 19 th Amendment – gave women to right to vote 24 th Amendment – made the poll tax illegal 26 th Amendment – set the voting age at 18 years old

13 Suffrage & Civil Rights Gerrymandering – drawing electoral district lines in a way that limits a group’s voting strength 1957 Civil Rights Act – investigated voter discrimination claims 1964 Civil Rights Act – emphasizes the use of injunctions to prevent voter discrimination 1965 Voting Rights Act – protects the rights of minority voters in all elections; forbids the use of practices that prevent qualified voters from using the polls

14 Voter Behavior Political Efficacy – choosing not to vote because you feel your vote does not make a difference Political Socialization – process by which people gain their political attitudes and opinions; sociological & psychological Party identification – loyalty to a political party Straight ticket voting – voting for candidates of only one party Split ticket voting – voting for candidates of both parties in one election

15 Nomination Process Nomination is the selecting of candidates for office; precedes the general election Candidates can be nominated in 1 of 5 ways: –Self-announcement –Petition –Caucus –Convention –Direct primary

16 Most candidates are nominated through a DIRECT PRIMARY – an election held within a party to pick its candidate Closed primaries – only registered party members vote Open primaries – any voter may vote in one party’s primary Run-off primaries – occurs when no one candidates receives a majority of the votes

17 Money & Elections Parties and their candidates draw their monies from 2 basic sources; *Private sources – individuals, family, the candidates themselves *Political Action Committees (PACs) – special interest groups ** Presidential candidates also receive public subsidies – grants of money from federal and state treasuries.

18 Federal campaign laws are administered by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and require the timely disclosure of campaign finance data and limit campaign contributions Money subject to reporting requirements is called Hard Money Soft Money is money given to local and state party organizations for their activities; not reported to the FEC

19 PUBLIC OPINION Public Opinion – attitudes of a number of people about matters of government and politics or public affairs Mass Media – means of communication that reach many people simultaneously; TV, radio, newspaper, magazines, internet Peer groups – groups of people with whom you regularly associate Opinion leaders – people who strongly influence the opinions of others.

20 What shapes Public Opinion? Mass media Peer groups Historic events Opinion leaders EducationOccupation Economic status Race, Gender Family

21 Public Opinion Vocabulary Mandate – candidates claim to have full support of his/her constituents Public opinion poll – device used to collect and measure public opinion Straw votes – polls that ask the same question of many people, unreliable because they are not representative of entire population Scientific polling – accurate, reliable method of polling for public opinion (random sample, quota sample) Public agenda – public issues that people think and talk about Sound bites – (mass media) focused, snappy statements that can be aired in 35-45 seconds.

22 An interest group is a private organization whose members share views and try to promote those views by influencing public policy. A trade association is an interest group formed by one segment of the business world. A labor union is an interest group whose members are workers with similar jobs A professional interest group focuses on one industry A public interest group tries to represent the entire country on issues that affect us all

23 Propaganda – technique of persuasion aimed at influencing individual or group behaviors to create certain beliefs Single-interest groups – Political Action Committees (PACs) that concentrate their efforts on one issue Lobbying – PACs bringing group pressure in order to influence law-makers Lobbyist – someone who works lobbying for an interest group Grass roots – organized pressure brought from average voters

24 Interest groups reach out to the public for three purposes: 1. Supply the public with information in an effort to gain support for their causes 2. Work to build positive images for their groups 3. Promote the public policies they favor

25 Positives of Interest Groups Help stimulate interest in public affairs Based on shared views, not shared geography Provide information to the government Keep tabs on the government Can limit each other’s extremes

26 Negatives of Interest Groups Can have too much influence Difficult to figure out how many people they represent Do not represent the views of all for whom they claim to speak Some engage in dishonest behavior


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