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USC / Political Science / POLI 360 / What are the Critiques of Political Parties?

What are the Critiques of Political Parties?

What are the Critiques of Political Parties?


School: University of South Carolina
Department: Political Science
Course: American Political Parties
Professor: David darmofal
Term: Winter 2016
Tags: political science and Government
Cost: 50
Name: POLI 360 - Exam 1 Study Guide
Description: This study guide is an comprehensive overview of this exam's lectures. It is not a completion of the professor's study guide; instead, it reviews all major concepts and points.
Uploaded: 02/07/2016
6 Pages 7 Views 7 Unlocks

lynnbw (Rating: )

great notes!!!!

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POLI 360 – Exam 1 Study Guide

What are the Critiques of Political Parties?

  ∙       Lecture One 

o Critiques of Political Parties

 Americans are skeptical of political parties.

 Party organizations and party leaders are corrupt, benefiting themselves at  the expense of society.

 Party loyalties limit voters’ abilities to think independently, as well as  choose the best candidates and policies.

o Each Critique is Valid

 Parties represent distinct societal interests, as opposed to the collective  interest.

∙ Representation of specific, as opposed to collective, interests is 


 Political parties have always been corrupt.

 Parties and the independent voter: independent voters pay attention to  policy details, and they judge candidates and policies on their merit.

o Positive effects of parties: Parties serve essential functions, which benefit political elites, citizens, and political society (polity) as a whole.

What are the Parties and Citizens’ Needs?

o Aldrich theorizes that parties are elites’ creations that serve elites’ interests. o Political Elites Create Political Parties to Solve These Problems (Aldrich)  Problem of Ambition.

 Social Choice Problem

  o   Calculus of Voting (Riker and Ordeshook, 1968) 

R = PB + D – C

R = rewards from voting

P = citizen’s probability of casting a pivotal ballot

B = citizen’s policy advantage from the election of his/her favored candidate D = citizen’s psychological gain from voting

C = citizen’s cost from voting

 Logically, citizens will not vote unless D is greater than C since P is  essentially 0.

 Parties mobilize voters by increasing D and decreasing C for their party  supporters, and vice versa for the opposing party.

o Issue Ownership Issue: the idea that certain parties “own” certain issues. For  example, Republicans “own” taxes and foreign policy.

What are 50 State Party Systems?

We also discuss several other topics like symphese

o Aldrich argues that elites create parties to solve problems of ambition, social  choice, and collective action. A critique of Aldrich’s work is that it is too fixated  on political elites and reduces citizens’ interests generating parties. Don't forget about the age old question of geol 2020 class notes

∙ Lecture Two 

o Parties and Citizens’ Needs

 Parties serve three principle interests of citizens: they make voting easier,  they inform citizens, and they connect citizens to their government.

 Inform citizens.

 Connecting citizens to government. We also discuss several other topics like mus 203 jmu

 Parties and the polity: parties allow for more effective policymaking in  separation of powers. They provide continuity to U.S. politics.

o Parties as Flawed but Necessary Institutions: they serve the interests of elite,  citizens, and the polity as a whole. Schatlschneider (1942) argues that democracy  is unthinkable without political parties

∙ Lecture Three 

o American politics has had a competitive 2­party system since 1830s, with the  Democrats versus the Whigs initially, which then merged into the Democrats  versus Republicans.

 Characteristics of This System

1. Competitive

2. Two­party

o The competitive two­party system speaks only to national competition for the  presidency. National competition is a consequence of local and state­level rivalry. At  local and state­level, the two­party system perseveres. For example, Democrats can  still get on the ballot in South Carolina. At local and state­level, however, competition has not always persisted. We also discuss several other topics like badm uconn

o Two­Party Competition across the United States

 William McKinley won the Election of 1896 against the Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan, who pushed his party toward the populist side. That  election ushered in a large Republican majority in the North. Republicans no  longer needed to compete in the South to win the presidency. In return, the  South became just as completely Democratic, though it was still controlled by  southern conservatives.

 System of 1896: a competitive two­party system is replaced by a sectional  system, with one­party Republican dominance in the North and one­party  Democratic dominance in the South, resulting in declining issue competition  and voter turnout.

o 50 State Party Systems

 Two­party competition at the state and local levels increased with the New  Deal readjustment in the 1930s, and it has continued to change over time. o Ranney Index of State Party Competition

 This index examines competitiveness between parties.

 Indicators of Party Strength:

∙ Percentage of popular vote for parties’ gubernational (governor) 


∙ Percentage of seats held by parties in each house of the state 


∙ Length of time and percentage of time that parties held both the 

governorship and majority in state legislature.

 Five Categories of States:

∙ One­Party Democratic State and One­Party Republican State.

∙ Modified One­Party Democratic State and Modified One­Party 

Republican State.

∙ Two­Party States

o Local Presidential Voting Competition If you want to learn more check out michael mcgregor uri

 The Ranney Index analyzes party competition using voting for only the  gubernational and state legislative races and how presidential election 

competition differs across the United States.

o Why Does the United States Have a Two­Party System?

 The main difference between the United States and other countries is  institutional.

∙ Duverger’s Law: single­member (for example, the House of 

Representatives) election districts with plurality elections tend to 

produce two­party systems.

 Single­Member Districts

 Multi­Member Districts

 Plurality Elections

 Proportional Representation Elections

 Single­member plurality election systems are winner­take­all systems.  Proportional representative systems are not winner­take­all Systems; in this  system, minority parties can still get elected.

o Alternative Theories of Two­Party Systems

 Dualist Theories

 Social Consensus Theories If you want to learn more check out mat1100

o The Two­Party System and Third Parties

 Once the two­party system was established, both major parties had compelling reasons to continue it by restricting minor party opportunities,

 Constraints on Minor Parties

1. Ballot Access Laws

2. Campaign Finance Laws

3. Presidential Debates

∙ Lecture 4

o Other Minority Party Hurdles

1. Campaign resources

2. Media coverage

o Opportunities for Minority Party Candidates

1. Financial resources

2. Existing name identification

o Majority party responses to minority parties: major parties respond to minority  challengers by absorbing the minor party’s issues; this gives the majority party an  opportunity to convert the minority party’s supporters into their own supporters. o State and Local Organizations

 Cadre Parties: Cadre parties are run by leaders and activists with little  participation by the public. Main action occurs during election season.

 Mass­Membership Parties: They are focused on ideology and issues, not  just elections. Members choose party leaders and activists.

 American political parties are modified cadre parties that are also increasingly year­round, professional organizations.

o Public Participation

1. Primary voting

2. Get­out­the­vote efforts

o Levels of Party Organization

1. Precinct, Ward, and Township Committees

2. City Committees

3. County Committees

4. District Committees

5. State Central Committees

o Party Machines

1. Hierarchically structured

2. Operate through material incentives

3. Patronage positions

4. Party organizations provided business to local companies

o Famous Machines

1. Chicago’s Daily Machine

2. New York’s Tammany Hall

3. Philadelphia’s Republican Machine

 Some cities have never had machines.

o The Decline of Party Machines

 Opposition to corruption

 Civil service protection

 Changing ethnic makeup of cities

 Replacement of parties’ social welfare functions with federal social programs o Despite the decline in party machines, parties have gotten stronger, especially in the  1970s with the increase in party structure and activism.

o State Committees: these committees have important powers, like…

 Calling and shaping party conventions.

 Choosing representatives for the national committee.

 Selecting the party’s presidential electors.

 Choosing some national convention delegates.

 Diffusing campaign assets for state and local race.

∙ Lecture Five 

o Historical Development of National Parties

 In the 1800s, Federalists and Democratic­Republicans chose their national  nominees through congressional caucuses.

 Nominating processes became decentralized in 1820s.

 State and local parties established the strongest party organizations because: 1. They selected their delegates for national conventions.

2. They had control over patronage.

3. They contested the state and local elections.

 Some national development, however, did occur:

1. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) was established in 1848. 2. The Republican National Committee (RNC) was established in 1856.  Hill Committees were also established:

1. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) was 

established after the Civil War.

2. The National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) was 

established after the Civil War.

3. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) was 

established after the 17th Amendment was passed, which allowed the 

direct election of senators.

4. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) was 

established after the 17th Amendment was passed, which allowed the 

direct election of senators.

o Democratic Party Reforms

 The Democratic Party began to nationalize in 1952 when they imposed a  loyalty oath of Southern Democrats.

 The McGovern­Frasier Commission, formed after a questionable Democratic  nomination in 1968, issued the Mandate for Reform, which required all 

primaries to be held in an open, timely, and representative manner.

 These values accidentally resulted in a shift towards primaries and away from  caucuses.

o Republican Party Reform

 Focused on increased services to states, led by RNC Chairmen Ray Bliss and  William Brock.

 Wanted to increase the party’s competitiveness by:

1. Increasing fundraising

2. Increasing the national organization structure

3. Increasing campaign consulting resources for candidates

 As the Democratic Party lost its electoral competitiveness, it began to copy  Republican reforms.

∙ Lecture 6 

o What Activities Do Party Activists Perform

1. Mobilize people

2. Fundraise

3. Complete campaign office activities

o Professionals vs. Amateurs

1. Party machines used to rely on professionals.

2. Amateurs used to get patronage to work for party machines. When party  machines were dissolved in the beginning of the 20th century, however, 

amateurs became more ideologically motivated and primarily hoped to get  certain policies enacted.

o Why Do Citizens Become Party Activists

1. They want to; citizens receive participation benefits.

2. They can; citizens possess the resources necessary for participation. 3. They are asked to do so; citizens are asked by party leaders and other party  activists to participate in the political process.

o Benefits of Party Activism

1. Material incentives

2. Solidary incentives

3. Purposive incentives

o Resources Promoting Party Activism

 Party activists usually have high socioeconomic states (SES).

o Resources for Party Activism

 Time

 Money

 Skills

o Mobilization for Party Activism

 People participate because they are asked to participate, usually by people  with high socioeconomic status.

o Rise of Amateurs

 More ideologically motivated, high socioeconomic activists, have replaced  activists that were solely motivated by material incentives. Party activists are  more ideologically motivated than the average voter.

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