The battle of the parties for control of public offices. Ups and downs of the two major parties are one of the most important elements in American politics.
According to Anthony Downs, a "team of men [and women] seeking to control the governing apparatus by gaining office in a duly constituted election."
The channels through which people's concerns become political issues on the government's policy agenda. In the United States, these include elections, political parties, interest groups, and the media.
The voter's perception of what the Republicans or Democrats stand for, such as conservatism or liberalism.
A popular theory in political science to explain the actions of voters as well as politicians. It assumes that individuals act in their own best interest, carefully weighing the costs and benefits of possible alternatives.
A citizen's self-proclaimed preference for one party or the other.
Voting with one party for one office and with another party for other offices. It has become the norm in American voting behavior.
A type of political party organization that relies heavily on material inducements, such as patronage, to win votes and to govern.
One of the key inducements used by party machines. These jobs, promotions, or contracts are ones that are given for political reasons rather than for merit or competence alone.
Elections to select party nominees in which only people who have registered in advance with the party can vote for that party's candidates, thus encouraging grater party loyalty.
Elections to select party nominees in which voters can decide on election day whether they want to participate in the Democratic or Republican contests.
Elections to select party nominees in which voters are presented with a list of candidates from all the parties. Voters can then select some Democrats and some Republicans if they like.
The meeting of party delegates every four years to choose a presidential ticket and write the party's platform.
One of the institutions that keeps the party operating between conventions. This committee is composed of representatives from the states and territories.
This person is responsible for the day-to-day activities of the party and is usually hand-picked by the presidential nominee.
A group of individuals with a common interest upon which every political party depends.
Historical periods in which a majority of voters cling to the party in power, which tends to win a majority of the elections.
An electoral "earthquake" where new issues emerge, new coalitions replace old ones, and the majority party is often displaced by the minority party. These periods are sometimes marked by a national crisis and may require more than one election to bring about a new party era.
The displacement of the majority party by the minority party, usually during a critical election period.
New Deal Coalition
A coalition forged by the Democrats, who dominated American politics from the 1930s to the 1960s. Its basic elements were the urban working class, ethnic groups, Catholics and Jews, the poor, Southerners, African Americans, and intellectuals.
The gradual disengagement of people and politicians from the parties, as seen in part by shrinking party identification.
A term used to describe the fact that many Americans are indifferent toward to two major political parties.
Electoral contenders other than the two major parties. These parties are not unusual, but they rarely win elections.
An electoral system in which legislative seats are awarded only to the candidates who come in first in their constituencies. In American presidential elections, the system in which the winner of the popular vote in a state receives all the electoral votes of that state.
An electoral system used throughout most of Europe that awards legislative seats to political parties in proportion to the number of votes won in an election.
When two or more parties join together to form a majority in a national legislature. This form of government is quite common in the multiparty systems of Europe.
responsible party model
A view favored by some political scientists about how parties should work. According to the model, parties should offer clear choices to the voters, who can then use those choices as cues to their own preferences of candidates. Once in office, parties would carry out their campaign promises.