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POLI 360 - Week 14

by: runnergal

POLI 360 - Week 14 POLI 360 001


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These notes cover what was discussed in class during the week of 4/18/16.
American Political Parties
David C. Darmofal
Class Notes
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by runnergal on Friday April 22, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLI 360 001 at University of South Carolina taught by David C. Darmofal in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 24 views. For similar materials see American Political Parties in Political Science at University of South Carolina.


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Date Created: 04/22/16
POLI 360 – Lecture 20  Decline of Parties o The recent party revitalization contrasts with the 1960s­1970s party decline,  especially in regards to party organization. o Why Did That Decline Occur?  Changing demographics  Loss of patronage jobs  Use of primaries   Party machines had lost most of their power and strength by this point  Creation and development of the conservative coalition  Rise in policy entrepreneurship  Rise in independents  Resurgence of Parties o That decline may have been overstated. For example, the rise of independents was actually a rise in independent leaners; if people behave as partisans, their party  identifications are still relevant. o Bartels (2000)  This political scientist examined the effects of partisanship on voting in  the U.S.  He found that the proportion of voters that were partisan identifiers  increased in the 1990s to a point higher than any point since 1968.  Additionally, the proportion of non­voters that identified as partisans  decreased from 1950s­1990s, signifying that non­voters are increasingly  disenchanted with government.  Party identification is increasingly important for voters’ vote choices; this  importance results in increasing partisan voting. Partisan voting includes  both the percentage of partisans and the effect of partisanship on vote  choice.  Party identification increased less in congressional elections (midterm  elections). o Parties also grew in strength in government by the 1990s.  The Post­Reform Congress gave more power to congressional party  leaders.  Congressional leaders then used this power to shape committee leadership  and advance party goals. o Party organizations also grew in strength during this time period.  Party organizations became more professional.  Party mobilization efforts became more refined. o It is doubtful that U.S. government will return to the 1800s era of party strength  because nonpartisan government bureaucracy is now responsible for social  programs instead of party machines. Additionally, it is doubtful that politics and  religion will ever be so closely intertwined again. o Parties historically have adapted to fill different roles in different eras. o Modern parties are increasingly polarized parties in service to candidates that use  sophisticated mobilization techniques. o Currently, there is no party for fiscal conservatives with socially liberal values or  for fiscal liberals with socially conservative values. This may explain why Trump  has been so successful in the Republican primary. o Schattschneider (1960)  He focused on mobilization of conflict vs. privatization of conflict.  Mobilization of Conflict: parties mobilize political conflict and expand it  to include additional citizens. Healthy conflict attracts voters. Moreover,  electoral incentives promote the mobilization of conflict.  Privatization of Conflict: the interest group system survives and thrives  on privatization of conflict; this prevents interest groups from competing  with an informed public over policy goals.  Privatization of Conflict o Pluralism: this theory argues that the interest group system can represent diverse  interests and would not be problematic for accurate representation, since anyone  can create an interest group.  If all political interests had equal chances of forming interest groups,  pluralism would work.  Unfortunately, interests would be narrower in this system than a partisan  system.  Interests would still be voiced, but they would be more fragmented. o Schattschneider argues that upper­class interests, such as business or corporate  interests, tend to be better represented than middle­ or lower­class interests, such  as working or consumer interests, because:  Organizational resources, such as money and connections, are not evenly  distributed throughout all interest groups.  Economic incentives are not equally distributed among all interest groups.  For example, a small business receives more direct benefits per person  when lobbying is successful as opposed to an organization that represents  everyone in a specific demographic.  Collective Action Problem: consumers and other individuals may have  difficulty organizing due to the free­rider problem.  A wide range of individuals may benefit from the group’s  formation.  The costs that any individual incurs are likely to outweigh the  potential benefits the individual may receive.  This problem is less of a concern for business interests, who  represent a smaller number of people. Particularistic legislation  may benefit a select few companies; therefore, their benefits of  organizing may outweigh their costs of organizing. POLI 360 – Lecture 21  Resurgence of Parties o Thriving parties require active citizen participation; if that participation ceases to  exist, an iron triangle interest group system will tend to dominate.  Iron Triangle: interest groups, government, bureaucracy, and the  connections between them. The people in these triangles promote their  own narrow interests in specific policy areas. o The party system works against iron triangles. o Parties can promote participation and voter turnout if the party has the  organizational strength to do so. o As a result, the organizational strength of parties is very important. o Parties have increasingly contacted voters more often because:  More refined voter targeting  Investment in party organization  Parties­in­service to candidates o In regards to successful mobilization, parties can more easily serve as  transmission belts, as compared to the interest group system. o Therefore, parties’ mobilization capabilities are important for continuing the  mobilization, not the privatization, of conflict. o Party contacting efforts, however, do require a willing and supportive voter  population. o Increasing party identification suggests increasingly willing targets for party  mobilization. o Citizens are more likely to consider themselves partisans when they see and  understand recognizable differences between the parties. o Resurgent parties in government are therefore essential for continued increases in  party identification and successful party mobilization. o This idea argues that all three dimensions – government, organizations, and the  electorate – influence each other. o The future of party development is not completely predictable. o To prevent polarization, we could implement nonpartisan redistricting, which  would result in more moderate/swing districts. However, this could weaken  distinctions between parties, and people would be less inclined to identify with a  party and vote. o Aldrich proposed that parties are the creations of political elites. Parties adapt to  changes in the political environment to serve the needs of political elites. o We may be headed into a new period of party adaptation as parties have become  stronger in all three dimensions and have become more central to U.S. politics.


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