Political Science 1100, Introduction to American Politics, February 19, 2014
Voting and Elections
REALITY OF AMERICAN ELECTIONS: American Circumstances are far from idea.
Turnout tends to be Low
turnout are not perfectly representative of voting age adults.
Four Reasons that Voters Choose One Candidate Over Another
a. Party Identification
b. The Image Of The Candidates
c. Candidates' Stands On Major Issues
d. Incumbents' Past Performance in Office
In Reality, we tend to cast Retrospective Votes: We Tend To
Retrospective voting is particularly important in voting for President
2008: A Change election favors challenger Obama
2012: Obama was now the incumbent
1. Why do we have political parties?
- Ask James Madison - Why did he help create America's first political party?
- to make American government work by building coalitions of
(1) legislators and other public officials (party in government),
(2) voters who would vote for candidates for public office (party in the electorate) .
(2) a party organization
2. Why Do Only Two Parties Dominate American Politics?
The Democrats and
Republicans have dominated
American politics since the 1850s -
"Third" Parties rarely win electoral votes
1) History: We've Always Had Two
Since the 1850s, the Democratic and Republican Parties have
dominated American Politics
2) Party Identification: People Tend To Stick With One Party or the Other
3) Americans agree on basic values
4) Single Member, Plurality Elections Make It Difficult for 3rd Parties
These rules make it hard for "Third" Parties to sustain electoral success
3. What groups tend to vote for Democrats and Republicans?
- the decline of the white electorate
Region of the Country
Size of place
4.Why are the Parties so Polarized Now?
the separation of Democrats and Republicans in political attitudes and behavior