Political Science 1100, Introduction to American Politics, February 26, 2014
4.Why are the Parties so Polarized Now?
the separation of Democrats and Republicans in political attitudes and behavior
Cross-Pressures and Changing coalitions have driven the parties apart
Realignment of American Parties since the 1980s
The Southern states:
were once solidly Democratic, even though most Southerners were very conservative
The New England states: was once solidly Republican, even
New Englanders were moderate or liberal
• Rural across the country have become more Republican
The conservative South has transformed from a strong Democratic region to a
strong Republican region
– making the Republican Party more conservative & less moderate
Liberal areas of New England. the West and inner suburbs (like St. Louis County)
have left the Republican Party
- making the Democratic Party more liberal and less moderate
The Tea Party: an even more conservative
faction, has made the Republican party more conservative
it favors lower taxes, less government spending, balanced budgets, and less government regulation
Americans and political parties are very polarized today
Party in the electorate
Party in government
If you are an elected official and you are too moderate, you may be "primaried,"
especially in the Republican Party, and you could lose because voters
in primary elections are more ideological than voters in the general election.
5. WHO CARES about the political parties?
To Become President, Or Governor, Or A Legislator,
You Still Have To Win Elections
-- But Without Strong Parties To Help,
Tactics For Winning Have To Include
1). The "Candidate-Centered" Campaign
You Have To Rely
On Yourself To Win Elections
2). If You Go It Alone And Rely On Yourself,
You Have To Advertise Yourself To Potential Voters
(That's Because They Won't Rely On Party Labels
You have to run your own campaign and find a lot of donors
And many donors will only give you big money if you are very ideological and very partisan – like they are
And if you are rewarded for being very ideological and partisan, you may be punished if you compromise
BUT ... the Constitution requires compromise to make government work
1. WINNING THE PRESIDENCY
You have to win two games: the nomination, and the general election
These games have two different sets of
A. To Win The Nomination,
You Have To Win A Majority of The Delegates
To The Party's Nomination Convention
in the Summer before the general election
To Win delegates, you have to do very well in the
Primaries and Caucuses
Turnout In the Primaries Is Low
- about 20% of voters
Turnout In Caucuses (like
In Order To Win The Nomination, You Have To Win The Support Of Those Who Show Up
in primaries and caucuses
These people tend To Be More Active In Their Party &
These tend to be people with very strong views - these tend to be "wingers" - that is, the more conservative Republicans, and the more liberal Democrats
Keys To Winning The Nomination:
- Win Early And Often To Drive Out The Opposition
Key contests: Iowa, the first caucus
New Hampshire, the first primary
The 2012 Nomination
B. To win the General Election, you have to win 270 electoral votes
What are electoral votes?
How are a state's electoral votes determined?
How do you win a state's electoral votes?
Can you win a majority of the popular vote and lose the election?
Who are the electors?
The 2012 General Election