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American Government Midterm Study Guide

by: Kayden McKenzie

American Government Midterm Study Guide Pola 2100

Marketplace > Tulane University > Political Science > Pola 2100 > American Government Midterm Study Guide
Kayden McKenzie

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Study guide for midterm on Thursday March 3rd
American government
Robert Worth
Study Guide
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This 11 page Study Guide was uploaded by Kayden McKenzie on Sunday February 28, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to Pola 2100 at Tulane University taught by Robert Worth in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 28 views. For similar materials see American government in Political Science at Tulane University.


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Date Created: 02/28/16
Procedural vs. Substantive Democracy Procedural – we don’t care about outcomes, whatever majority rule decides, some elements of fairness (everyone’s vote counts the same, universal participation, responsiveness from government: not ignoring voters) Substantive – assume that certain outcomes are preferable/necessary, looking to the Constitution Majoritarian vs. Pluralistic Majoritarian – majority rule, homogeneous public opinion Pluralistic – naturally formed groups of people with opinions, interest groups Nonexcludable public goofs Everyone gets it regardless of who pays for it Freeriding problem – let other people pay for it while having it benefit even those who don’t pay for it Articles of Confederation Each state was sovereign There was a national army but not every state paid their share Recognized the need for a national government Idea of a republic Republic Direct democracy would be chaos – people voting on every issue, there is no time for that Republic – voting for people to represent the public Assumption that these representatives would be the best and brightest Great Compromise Creation of bicameral legislature – House and Senate House of Representatives – number of congressmen based on state population (benefits larger states) Senate – 2 senators from each state (benefits small states) Electoral College - states elect the president (the people do not) Madisonian Dilemma In order for the government to work, the people needed to be given some power How do we prevent people from obtaining too much power? Solved with separation of powers and checks and balances Separation of constituency – each representative represents different interests from their districts Federalism – both state governments and national government are sovereign Changing the Constitution Amendment process – Congress proposes, 2/3 approve 3/4 of states approve States can also propose but it has never been done Federalist #10 Republic is larger than a democracy In a republic, no one can form a majority Political party looks like a faction Owen Islamic Democracy article US assumes that democracy is good Democracy conflicts with Sharia law No Islamic democracy has been successful but maybe that will change US states State government deals with local populations, more responsive to the people “states are the laboratories of democracy” States tend to be more homogeneous Federal and State Power Federal government has gained more power since WWII Overall government spending has increased over time Federal government is more unified especially when dealing with national crises States have “police power” – protecting health, wellbeing, and safety of their people More federal policy over time Affordable Care Act Justified with commerce clause (power of federal government to regulate interstate commerce) Expands access to health care, rain in costs Expansion of Medicaid program (for low income people), a lot of states refused to expand when federal government gave them Medicaid funds, states took it to court and court backed states People who need it the most do not get it, poor allocation of funds Taking money from states and giving it to other states, getting nothing in return Federal vs. state power Conservatives tend to support states rights Liberals tend to support federal government policy (their goals are easier to achieve through federal action) Public opinion Voters do not know a lot Some do not even have opinions Able to find a lot of fault in the system Political socialization What we learn when we are kids Influenced by family, school, .etc Elementary school – America is the best, patriotism, freedom Family is most important, school is second Republic Assuming that public doesn’t know enough Public opinion is not very useful for policymakers Direction – there has to be a majority to see, never really happens Stability – we change our minds a lot, not good to constantly go back and forth with law Intensity – we actually have to have an opinion and care Being informed Measuring public opinion Public doesn’t have faith in polls Taking a sample Random sample – everyone has an equal probability of being selected Alf Landon Poll – in 1930s, pollers selected sample from car registration, represented opinion of only white and wealthy, did not accurately predict the vote Wording questions can get a particular reaction as well as question order Political Participation Signing a petition Joining a political group Going to a rally Riot Very few people do these things, we usually just care about voting Voting participation US has less voting participation than most educated developed countries US elections are not competitive – obvious Republican and Democratic states Registering to vote is time consuming We vote on a Tuesday Electoral college actually votes We vote a lot – president, senator, representative, governor, .etc (federal, state, local levels) Why people are not forced to vote Prevents uneducated voters Violates freedom of speech – boycotting vote Primary Figuring out candidates for general election “old school” primary – heads of parties met in a room and picked who the candidate was, people felt it put power in the hands of the few Direct primary – people voting for party’s candidates Direct democracy – initiative, recall, referendum, people voting on local and state laws, not at national level (founders did not trust the general public) Paradox of Voting V = B – C + D (voting is maximizing benefits, minimizing costs) Voting never makes sense for anyone (political scientists) Sense of civic duty – we should vote (our obligation, lucky to live in a democracy) Who votes? People of higher socioeconomic status are more likely – more time, educated, government responds more to them Lower income people have more to worry about, believe that the government doesn’t work in their interest Wealthy people tend to vote Republican – party has an advantage especially in midterm elections General election – about getting the most people to show up Demographics Whites – typically more conservative Blacks – typically more liberal with economic issues but more conservative with social issues Latinos/Hispanics – similar to blacks Protestants – more conservative Catholics – less conservative than Protests Jews – more liberal Elites People with expertise, credibly stature Media asks them to comment Politicians included Information not from the media Economy is intuitive People notice when gas prices are up or down Affects our every day lives Unemployment rate “normal” considered 4-5% Current in US is 5.5% Job market is still considered “bad” People have stopped looking for jobs A lot of temporary and minimum wage jobs Privatization vs. Corporation Able to see how the media has changed Getting news we want – entertaining Media covers what interests the public Soft news – what attracts people, not actual news Hard news – real news that is not entertaining, does not make any money TV is the most dominant news source (until the internet) Cable news is worse than no news – people know less Getting News More politically aware – more firm in beliefs, rejects points they do not agree with Receiving news increases while willingness to accept a new message decreases Bias general media – no systematic bias, sort of in the middle media goes where the story is without focusing on one ideology or the other one bias – negativity in the media (not liberal or conservative) scandals do not hurt politicians as much anymore media drives public attention – cannot focus on every issue at once media seems to be driving Trump (approval ratings go up as they talk about him more) issue framing – immigration (economic issue, security issue, or humanitarian issue?) choosing the lens to view an issue through priming – media sets up the way we perceive it (negatively or positively) Primaries Decide nominee for the general election More specifically, decide the individual running under party’s label Direct primary – elected by the people Open primary – can vote for a party despite party affiliation (don’t have to choose Republican or Democrat when registering to vote) Closed primary – must be registered to vote for that party Problems with closed primary – cuts out independents (opinion of many people not represented) Problems with open primary – possible sabotage (group could convince others to vote for a different candidate), people purposely voting for “bad” candidate so that theirs wins (does not happen) Delegate allocation rules Republicans – sort of proportional -> proportional -> winner-take-all (keeps unknown candidates alive and winner becomes clear toward the end) Democrats – all states are proportional, reserves “super delegates” (delegates for the people), leaves votes in control of the party If a state tries to hold their primary before Iowa, parties will not count their votes (quasi-private entity) “Super Tuesday” – a bunch of primaries in one day, states got together and decided to vote on the same day so that they received attention Top Two System - used by Louisiana, top two get the nomination Electoral college Federal system of election People’s vote doesn’t decide president -> states do Winner-take-all system – possible to win the popular vote but not the electoral vote Small states – individual vote matters more System is very reliant on “swing states” (those that could go Republican or Democrat) National Convention Announcement of the winner of the primary Winner is usually known beforehand Party unites behind candidate and develops platform Platform – statement of the party’s goals Comparable to a big pep rally Money There has been more money in politics Citizens United – meant to limit campaign contributions but instead opened up a lot of outside funding Candidates funding campaigns with more money Political action committee (PAC) – spends money on behalf of the candidate, not officially affiliated with the campaign and no coordination is allowed, no limit on amount of spending Republicans tend to support PACs more than Democrats because they have more big donors Public attitude – some don’t like how money runs campaigns Contributing money to campaigns seen as a first amendment right (spending equivalent to freedom of speech/expression) Super PACs – don’t have to disclose funds, big group of entities No limit on spending if money is not given directly to the candidate How people vote Biggest indicator – partisanship Michigan model – time axis showing people’s decision of who they vote for and the things along the way that affect their decision, starts at social divisions economic structure and historical patterns and ends at vote Independent voter – either very informed or doesn’t know enough to identify with a party Next biggest indicator – economy (correlation between Obama’s economic approval and overall approval) Worsening economy – no matter who you are, you are dissatisfied Partisanship Parents and socioeconomic status often determine party affiliation Response party government – Party outlines what they are going to do, people evaluate at next election, holding government accountable Divided government – one party controls executive branch and other controls Congress, voters give credit for good conditions in society to their party Electoral college gives Democrats advantage (party appeals to big states) Political Parties vs. Interest Groups Political parties run candidates under their label Interest groups endorse candidates but don’t actually nominate anyone Two-party system Hundreds of parties exist but only two have control Too many parties would be chaos Two parties simplify the process Two parties provide organization (overcome collective action problems) Parties give us something to choose from Candidates use parties to their advantage as a support system (used to be the other way around) Overall goal of a party: win elections Founders – did not like “factions” (parties) because they thought the country would be divided and that there would be tyranny of the majority Ideological distance between parties has never been greater (measurements come from Congressional vote) Polarization Republicans have become more conservative (most conservative in the history of the US) Southern Democrats – more conservative than Northern Democrats, exists because they did not want to be a part of Lincoln’s party, economically liberal but socially conservative (racial beliefs), have shifted left recently because of Southern realignment Southern realignment – after Civil War Southern states were strictly Democrat, started shifting to Republican Why are Republicans more conservative – political scientists do not know for sure, possible explanation: waves of immigration since the 1970s so more poverty, people feel richer even though their incomes did not increase and became more economically conservative Defining feature of parties: polarization (probably unprecedented, asymmetrical, began in 1970s) Difficult to meet in the middle Mass public – not ideological, would not look as polarized as parties Demographics “doom” republicans – whites will not be a majority in the US soon, Republican party appeals to whites, Donald Trump preventing appeal to minorities Voting preferences Older people more likely to be Republican and millennials more likely to be Democrat Although there are more Democrats, some people claim to be Democrat and vote strictly Republican or don’t vote People of higher socioeconomic status tend to vote more Republican People with greater education tend to vote more Democrat There is a huge gap with more women voting Democrat (abortion, planned parenthood, equal pay, social safety nets, and women’s rights in general) Huge gap for white Protestants voting Republican Blacks, even Protestant, vote overwhelmingly Democrat (most stable partisan gap) Urban areas are more Democrat, and rural areas are more Republican (more Republican based on land area) Hispanics are typically more Democratic (unstable because people inherit partisanship and a lot of Hispanics are immigrants, there are also many socially conservative Hispanics) Third parties There is a growing support for third parties Third parties simply are not going to win elections 2000 election – green party took away votes from the democrats and caused Bush to win Single member district plurality system – winner takes all (candidate must win a majority in general election), even if a third party candidate had a lot of support he or she still will not have a majority, there is no room for a third party, some other democracies have proportional representation but our system favors two parties


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