Political Science 1100, Introduction to American Politics, February 26, 2014


Current Events 


Political Parties

4.Why are the Parties so Polarized Now?


   Political Polarization: 
     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 though many
          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,

       Your 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

As Much)


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



Presidential Elections


    You have to win two games: the nomination, and the general election

    These games have two different sets of rules

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 Iowa) is even lower.



Consequence: 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:

- Organization,


            and "Momentum"

- 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