Connecting to the Political Process: Socialization, Parties, and Interest Groups Unit 3
Public Opinion Definition – The distribution of the population’s beliefs about politics and policy issues. How do we measure public opinion?
The American People What factors have shaped the demographics of the U.S.? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32l 3sTFRFX8 Have our attitudes toward immigration changed? – Illegal immigration – Minority Majority http://www.washingtontimes.com/new s/2011/nov/1/griswold-give-us- your-engineers-yearning-to-innova/
Figure 6.2 The American People The Regional Shift – Reapportionment: The process of reallocating House seats every 10 years. What shift has changed the apportionment of seats in the last 30 years?
The American People How has age distribution in this country changed? – Fastest growing group is over 65 What public policy concerns does this raise?
Political Culture Definition – An overall set of values widely shared within a society. What is the political culture of the U.S.? How does political socialization serve to maintain political culture?
Measuring Public Opinion How Polls Are Conducted – Why is random sampling important? – What is sampling error? – How can question wording impact the outcome of polls? How important is polling to American politics? Is it too important?
Measuring Public Opinion What Polls Reveal About Americans’ Political Information – How much knowledge do Americans have about politics? – How do Americans feel about their government?
Political Ideologies Definition: – A coherent set of beliefs about politics, public policy, and public purpose. How do we define “liberal” and “conservative”? Has there been a turn toward conservatism?
From Table 6.3 Political Ideologies Liberals: – Less military spending – Opposed to prayer in schools – Favor affirmative action – Tax the rich more – Solve the problems that cause crime Conservatives: – More military spending – Support prayer in schools – Oppose affirmative action – Keep taxes low – Should stop “coddling criminals”
Political Ideologies Do People Think in Ideological Terms? – Ideologues: think in ideological terms- 12% of the population – Group Benefits: rely on party labels- 42% of the population – Nature of the Times: current times are good or bad- 24% of the population – No issue content: based on personalities- 22% of the population
Political Participation Definition: – All the activities used by citizens to influence the selection of political leaders or the policies they pursue. Conventional Participation – Voting in elections – Working in campaigns / running for office – Contacting elected officials
Political Participation Is protest political participation? Civil disobedience: A form of political participation that reflects a conscious decision to break a law believed to be immoral and to suffer the consequences.
Figure 6.5 How Americans Participate in Politics Class, Inequality, and Participation
The Meaning of Party What is a political party? Parties can be thought of in three parts: – Party in the electorate – Party as an organization – Party in government
The Meaning of Party Tasks of the Parties – Linkage Institution – Pick Candidates – Run Campaigns – Give Cues to Voters – Articulate Policies – Coordinate Policymaking
Figure 8.1 The Meaning of Party What is the rational-choice theory? – Assumes that individuals act in their own best interest, weighing the pros & cons.
The Party in the Electorate What does this mean? How has this changed in recent years? – Split ticket voting YearDemIndRep 196452.22324.8 197640.236.823.0 198835.736.328.0 200034.841.024.2
Types of Party Systems States operate different systems: – Closed: voters must be registered with their party in advance and can only vote for that party – Open: voters decide on election day which party to participate in, and then only that party – Blanket: voters get a list of all candidates and can vote for one name for each office, regardless of party label
The Party Organizations - Local What is meant by the term “grassroots”? Party workers stuff envelopes, make calls and door-to-door visits, and plan events District and county committee – governing body for that region County chairperson leads the committee Sheriffs carry out the objectives of the political party
The Party Organizations - State State committee develops statewide party policy State chairperson heads the committee Governor serves is influential on party politics – especially in appointments
The Party Organizations – National Senators propose laws often in line with party platform National Committee coordinates state activities National chairperson leads the committee
The Party in Government What does this mean? Coalition: – A group of individuals with a common interest upon which every political party depends. How often do politicians do what they say they will do during elections?
Party Eras in American History Party Eras – Historical periods in which a majority of votes cling to the party in power. Critical Election – An electoral “earthquake” where new issues and new coalitions emerge. Party Realignment – The displacement of the majority party by the minority party, usually during a critical election.
Third Parties What is the impact of third parties on American politics? How does the winner-take-all system prevent the ascendance of third parties? What is the alternative to winner-take-all? Coalition Government: – Two or more parties join to run government
Understanding Political Parties Responsible Party Government – 1. Parties have distinct comprehensive programs. – 2. Candidates are committed to the program. – 3. Majority party must carry out its program. – 4. Majority party must accept responsibility.
Understanding Political Parties What are the issues with this model? How does the American political system serve to keep government relatively small? Why are parties in decline? Will they fade out completely?
The Role and Reputation of Interest Groups Definition – An organization of people with shared policy goal entering the policy process at several points to try to achieve those goals. Interest Groups are policy specialists, Political Parties are policy generalists.
The Role and Reputation of Interest Groups Why does “interest group” have a bad connotation? – The writers of the Constitution disliked organized groups- parties and interest groups. – Dishonest lobbyists get more press than the honest ones- even though there are far more honest lobbyists.
Interest Groups & Pluralism How do interest groups fit into pluralist theory? – Politics is mainly a competition among groups, each one pressing for its own preferred policies. – No group wins or loses all the time. – Groups provide the key link between the people and the government. – Lobbying is open to all.
Interest Groups & Elitism How do interest groups fit into elitist theory? – Societies are divided along class lines and that an upper-class elite will rule. – Power is not equally divided among groups; some have much more. – Lobbying is a problem because it benefits the few at the expense of the many.
Interest Groups & Hyperpluralism How do interest groups fit into hyperpluralist theory? – Groups are so strong that government is weakened. – Iron Triangles keep government from working properly. – Interest groups have become too powerful since the government tries to serve every interest, making policy confusing and contradictory.
What Makes an Interest Group Successful? The Surprising Ineffectiveness of Large Groups – What is the Free-Rider problem? – The bigger the group, the larger the free-rider problem. – Small groups are better organized and more focused on the group’s goals. – Groups that can provide selective benefits overcome the free-rider problem.
What Makes an Interest Group Successful? Intensity – Single-Issue groups: Groups that focus on a narrow interest and dislike compromise. Financial Resources – Monetary donations usually translate into access to the politicians.
How Groups Try to Shape Policy Lobbying – “communication by someone other than a citizen acting on his own behalf, directed to a governmental decisionmaker with the hope of influencing his decision.” – Lobbyists are a source of information, can help politicians plan political strategies, and inspire legislation.
How Groups Try to Shape Policy Electioneering – Political Action Committee (PAC): Used by corporations, interest groups, and unions to donate money to candidates and otherwise work to influence elections.
How Groups Try to Shape Policy Litigation – Amicus curiae briefs to support their position – Class Action lawsuits Going Public – Groups use marketing strategies and advertising to influence public opinion of the group and its issues.
Types of Interest Groups Economic Interests – Labor – Agriculture – Business Environmental Interests Equality Interests Consumer and Public Interest Lobbies
Understanding Interest Groups Do interest group activities promote democracy? Do interest group activities enlarge the scope of government?