Political Science 1100, Introduction to American Politics, February 19, 2014


Current Events 


Voting and Elections



2. THE REALITY OF AMERICAN ELECTIONS: American Circumstances are far from idea.

Turnout tends to be Low


Those who 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



Political Parties

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?


    Party Identification










        - the decline of the white electorate






    Region of the Country


    Size of place



4.Why are the Parties so Polarized Now?


   Political Polarization: 
     the separation of  Democrats and Republicans in political attitudes and behavior