American Federal Government Exam 3 Study Guide
American Federal Government Exam 3 Study Guide P SC 1113 050
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This 10 page Study Guide was uploaded by sarahrichmondOU on Monday April 11, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to P SC 1113 050 at University of Oklahoma taught by Glen Krutz in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 351 views. For similar materials see American Federal Government in Political Science at University of Oklahoma.
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Date Created: 04/11/16
AMERICAN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT EXAM 3 STUDY GUIDE PUBLIC OPINION & VOTING Public opinion— The summation of individual opinions on any particular issue or topic. Why we vote, how we vote. Measured through representative & research method polls o Public opinion poll (scientific) interviews or surveys with random selected subgroups drawn from a population using probability theory that are used to estimate the feelings and beliefs of the entire population results will accurately reflect the nation's public opinion within a margin of error o Straw poll (non-scientific) an unofficial poll or vote taken to determine the opi nion of a group or the public on some issue not representative of any group beyond those who register their opinion. Factors that drive public opinion o Political culture o Ideology o Partisanship o Your upbringing o Major events and crises o Top-down (elite driven) vs. bottom-up (originating with the public) o John Zaller and “on-the-fly” opinions Bottom-up vs. top-down explanations of public opinion o Does public opinion originate with us or do the elites drive our opinions? Zaller’s framework of public opinion o Our opinions are constantly being influenced and changed Voter turnout—the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election Determinants of voter turnout o Age, educational level, interest in politics, income level The paradox of voter turnout US turnout in comparative perspective o Globally, the United States experiences lower turnout than other nations Changes to increase US voter turnout o the National Voter Registration Act (1993) requires states to add voter registration to government applications o Registration increased by 7 percent. o Move to all-mail voting o hold elections on weekends o automatically register voters o pass federal law that further reduces impediments to voter registration Main explanations of why people vote for certain candidates: Partisan loyalty is the single strongest predictor of a person's vote o The vast majority of voters consistently vote for one party or the other Candidate Characteristics o Voters tend to prefer candidates more like themselves because they presume such candidates are likely to have views close to their own o Voters also value particular characteristics like "honesty" and "vigor" Specific Issues o Ex: healthcare, economic conditions COLLECTIVE ACTION Collective action—Individuals come together to form a group to affect policy or influence the government Mancur Olson’s logic on collective action (free-riding issue) o the problem that occurs when everyone assumes that other people will step forward to act and hence no one does o Free-riders—people who do not belong to an organization or pay dues, yet nevertheless benefit from its activities What barriers exist to collective action? o lack time or other resources to participate o Lower income individuals and groups may lack the necessary civic skills to participate effectively o Institutional barriers like voter identification laws o believe their action will likely have little bearing on whether a given policy is adopted o free-riding What things facilitate collective action? o Passionate about certain issues o efficacy (the belief that you make a difference and that government cares about you and your views) o A commitment to protecting rights and liberties o benefit of joining with others who have the same concerns or are similar in other ways (solidary benefit) o material incentives, which are tangible benefits for joining a group o competitors seeking representation individually before the legislature. The Truman disturbance theory o the theory that an external event can lead to interest- group mobilization POLITICAL PARTIES Political party—a group of office holders, candidates, activists and voters who identify with a group label and seek to elect to public office individuals who run under that label, such that they can run the government. functions of political parties o raising money, mobilizing support and getting out the vote, formulating and promoting policy, parties in congress, and furthering unity, linkage, and accountability Parties made up of 3 types of members: o the office holders & candidates o workers & activists o those who vote for the party or consider themselves associated with it How are they different from interest groups? o Interest groups seek to influence public policy through lobbying while political parties seek to formulate and promote policy through assembling support for their party Proportional Representation vs. Single-member districts proportional representation o voters choose their leaders based on political party rather than geography, seats awarded on percentage of votes each party receive Single-member district o District with just one elected representative o winner-take-all o promotes 2-party system o discourages minority or independent parties from voting Duverger's Law o principle that single-member districts generally lead to stable 2 party system (republican and democrats) *Why is there stability of the U.S. two-party system? o Election rules, ideological centrism, State laws, funding campaigning Divided government vs. unified government o divided government one party controls the white house and the other party controls 1 or 2 houses of congress o unified government one party controls both white house and congress Polarization—refers to cases in which an individual's stance on a given issue, policy, or person is more likely to be strictly defined by their identification with a particular political party (e.g., Democrat or Republican) or ideology (e.g., liberal or conservative). Pros and con of polarization o the vast majority say the opposing party’s policies represent a threat to the nation’s well-being. o some experts argue that polarization can contribute to a decrease in public interest in politics, a decrease in party identification and a decrease in voter turnout o Polarization can alienate citizens, since it encourages confrontational dynamics between parties that lower the public’s trust in government and causes the public to perceive the general political debate as less civil because of the increasingly harsh and ideologically- minded political discourse across television, radio and internet sources. o because voters are unaware how polarized their choices have become, they tend to elect more ideologically polarized candidates, which leads to government and legislation that is less representative of the voting public’s desires o political polarization can increase party identification and the degree to which voters think positively about their party and stimulate an ideological sophistication of the politically engaged public as party identification becomes increasingly influenced by policy differences of political parties. As parties become more ideologically unified, voters become more knowledgeable about policy positions.  National conventions & Party Platforms o Party Platform—a set of issues important to the political party and the party delegates o Nation Convention—a gathering of delegates to select a party's presidential and vice-presidential ticket and to adopt its national platform. INTEREST GROUPS Interest groups—formally organized association that seeks to influence public policy o public interest group seeks a public good, which is something that accrues to all o private interest group usually seek particularized benefits from government that favor either a single interest or a narrow set of interests Joining an interest group (see also Collective Action section above) Why people join o to influence decision-makers and public policies o for budgetary allocations o to reduce regulations that an organization might view as burdensome o to protect natural resources and minimize the use of pollutants. o monitor government activity the NRA monitors attempts by state legislatures to tighten gun control laws o serve as a means of political participation for members o provide information to the public and to lawmakers o to increase membership, inform the public about issues the group deems important, or organize rallies and promote get-out-the-vote efforts Lobbying is tactic for influencing public decisions for private purposes o inside lobbying the act of contacting and taking the organization’s message directly to lawmakers in an attempt to influence policy o outside lobbying the act of lobbying indirectly by taking the organization’s message to the public, often through the use of the media and/or by issue press releases, in hopes that the public will then put pressure on lawmakers grassroots movement o political movement that often begins from the bottom up, inspired by average citizens concerned about a given issue AstroTurf movement o a political movement that resembles a grass-roots movement but is often supported or facilitated by wealthy interests and/or elites Political action committees, also known as PACs, collect money from donors and distribute it to political candidates (favored by conservatives) Super PACs are political action committees, often formed by corporations or unions, that can distribute virtually unlimited amounts of money iron triangle—three-party relationship among congressional committees, interest groups, and the bureaucracy Citizens United o Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission was a Supreme Court case that granted corporations and unions the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections revolving door laws o laws that require a cooling-off period before government officials can register to lobby after leaving office (house members 1 year, senate members 2 years) disclosure laws- laws that prohibit gifts hard money—donations made directly to political candidates and their campaigns which then must be declared with the name of the donor, which then becomes public knowledge soft money—money not donated directly to a candidate's campaign, but rather to a political advocacy group or a political party for "party-building" activities. Are interest groups good or bad for American politics? Argument question Big Sky, Big money video: http://www.pbs.org/video/2298009584/ CONGRESS Representation (Descriptive; Substantive; Models/roles of representation) The framers provided for a bicameral legislative branch with equal representation in the Senate and proportional representation based on state population in the House. Congress consists of two bodies: (1) the House of Representatives whose membership is based on proportional representation and (2) the Senate, whose membership is based on equal representation. The House of Representatives is the larger body with membership based on each state’s population. The Senate is the smaller body with each state having two delegates. With one hundred members, the Senate is a more intimate, less formal legislative body than the House, which has 435 members elected from districts that are roughly the same size in population. Member characteristics The vast majority of members of Congress are white males from middle- to upper-income groups. Most have a college education, and many have advanced degrees. In the 112th Congress, the average age of House members is fifty-seven and the average of senators is sixty-two. Ninety-one of the seats in the 112th Congress, or 16 percent, were held by women. These included seventy-four women in the House and seventeen in the Senate. A record number of forty-four African Americans served in the House, but there were none in the Senate. There were twenty-eight Hispanics in Congress—twenty-six in the House and two in the Senate. Thirteen Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and a single Native American were members of Congress. Members of Congress are a wealthy group. More than half of all members in 2009 were millionaires. *Trade-off between representativeness and responsiveness (the two hats that MCs/Sen’s wear) The House is a more formal institution, where hierarchy and seniority are important factors. The Senate, as a smaller, more intimate body, is less bound by formal rules than the House. Senators typically garner more media attention than House members because they serve statewide constituencies and serve longer terms of office. The Motivations of Members of Congress (Re-election; Making good policy; Power/ambition) Members seek assignments to committees considering the overlapping goals of getting reelected, influencing policy, and wielding power and influence. They can promote the interests of their constituencies through committee service and at the same time help their chances at reelection. Public opinion on Congress Public confidence in Congress has declined over the past three decades. Congress has the lowest approval ratings of the three national institutions. In 2010, Congress received its lowest approval rating in the history of the Gallup poll, with 83 percent of the public disapproving of the way the institution is handling its job. Some suggest that the image of an institution characterized by conflict and deal making that pervades media coverage has a negative impact on public perceptions. Most Americans abhor the squabbling between members and acrimonious interactions between Congress and the presidency that they see in the media. They feel that congressional leaders have lost touch with average people and that the institution is dominated by special interests. People’s low opinion of Congress is based on the public’s holding the institution accountable for negative societal conditions, such as a bad economy.
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