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What is a political party?

A group of people who seek to control government through winning of elections of public office

Identify two functions of political parties.

Nominate candidates, informing and activating supporters, people elected govern in partisan ways, act as a watchdog - scrutinize the other party

In what ways is American Government conducted on the basis of partisanship?

Elected officials tend to conduct business along with party lines in order to get re-elected.

Which party is in power in the nation? In California?

Dem, Dem

In what ways do political parties unify rather than divide the American people?

Within a given party they have to compromise and bring people with different ideas and backgrounds together to support one candidate and one platform

The party out of power serves an important function in American government. Explain that function.

They serve as watchdogs for the party in power

Briefly explain four reasons why the US has a 2-party system.

It srarted that way, it became a tradition that is hard to break, most elections in the US are in single-member districts where only one person can win,

How do the terms pluralistic and consensus both apply to American society?

They have many different culures, but they generally have a consensus agreement about government

What is a multiparty system?

More than 2 parties, like in Europe

Why do some people favor multiparty it for the US?

Broader more diverse representation, but they can lead to frequent changes in instability

Many factors tend to influence party choice. Name four.

Family voting patterns, Significant events like wars and depression, socioeconomic status (wealth), age, education level, residence

Why do single-issue parties tend to be short-lived?

The issue resolves and the party collapses

What are economic protest parties? Why are they formed in times of economic distress?


Most of the more important minor parties in our history have been of which type? Explain the effect of one such party.

Splinter party, they "spoil" the elections by pulling the votes away

Why is the innovator role a source of frustration to minor parties?

The start to gain visibility on their issues/platfor, then one of the other 2 major parties takes up those issues as his own

Minor parties usually are willing to take definite stands on controversial issues. How might voters react to this tendency?


What are the major causes of the decentralized nature of political parties?

Party out of power has no leader, local, state and federal offices of each party that are only loosely connected, nominating process divides parties into groups who support a certain candidate

What are the four main elements of major party organization at the national level?

National convention, National committee, Nantional chairperson, the congressional campaign committees

Describe how wards and precincts are part of the local party organization.

Ward is a unit is divided for the election of city council members, Precinct - the smallest unit of election administration.

What is split-ticket voting? How has its increase contributed to the weakened state of the two major parties?

Voting for

What are the 2 major parties in the US?

Democrats and Republicans (GOP)

What is partisanship?

Identify and vote along party lines and platforms

What is a single-member district?

Only one person elected to office

What is a plurality?

Most votes in an election, not necessarily a majority

What is bipartisan?

Parties working together to compromise and move things forward

What is a pluralistic society?

Society made up of different cultures, ethnicity.

What is a consensus?

Basic agreement on the fundamentals of all American people

What is a coalition?

Alliance of 2 or more parties to form a government

What is an incumbant?

The person who currently holds office and is up for re-election

What is an electorate?

Voting population

what are ideological parties?

Minor parties based on ideology or politics like communist party, socialist party, labor party

What are single issue parties?

Minor Parties who arise around a single issue

What are splinter parties?

Minor parties who arise from the democratic or republican parties

What straight ticket voting and split-ticket voting?

Straight - vote all one party; Split - multiple

T/F: A plurality is more than half the votes cast.

F - that is a majority

T/F: A ward is a unit into which cities are often divided for the election of city council members.


T/F: An ideological party arises over a particular issue or crisis and soon fades away.

F, that is a single-issue party

T/F: Partisanship means membership in one of the major parties.

F - no, it is strong support of the party and its stance on policies

What is the major function of a political party?

Nominate candidates

Which term better describes political parties in American politics: divisive or unifying? Why?

Divisive - Partisan politics get in the way of governing, especially in congress with passing legislations

Cite two examples that show why American government may be described as government by party.

You can only vote for 1 of 2 candidates that are selected by the parties for president

In what 2 ways does the American electoral system tend to promote a two-party system?

Single-member districts in most elelctions allow only one winner, so most don't vote for a minority candidate as they will "waste" their vote

How can the diversity of views represented in a multiparty system be seen as both a strength and a weakness?

Better representation and diversity of policies, but this leads to needing coalitions to be formed for a majority which are often unstable and result in frequent changes in polical leadership

How is the ideological consensus of the American electorate reflected in the membership of the major parties?


Briefly describe the 4 types of minor parties.

Ideological, Single-issue, Economic protest, Splinter

Historically, what have been the most important roles of the minor parties? Briefly explain one of these roles.

Spoiler role, innovators

Why is the party in power more cohesive than the opposition party?

They have a leader

Describe the role of the national chairperson.

Leads the national committee and directs the headquarter's and staff in Washington DC

List and explain four factors that have contributed to the present weakened state of the major parties.

More independents, more split-ticket voting, advances in technology that make it easier to campaign and educate without parties, more openness of issues and internal conflicts within the parties

Describe 2 long-term trends that have characterized the history of suffrage in the US.

Elimination of restrictions on who could vote and increasing federal control over voting

Describe 5 distinct stages in the growth of the American electorate

1) No religious restriction, no property ownership requirement or tax requirement; 2) 15th amendment - no color or race restriction; 3) The 19th amendment - no gender restriction; 4) 1960's civil rights and voter rights increased African american access to voting; 5) 26th amendment - 18 years of age

Who exercises the franchise?


What restrictions does the Constitution place on the States in setting suffrage qualifications?

1) Anyone who votes in a national election should be able to vote in a local election; 2) no race restriction; 3) no gender restriction; 4) no poll tax; 5) 18 year olds can vote

What arguments pushed the right of 18 year olds to vote?

They were able to be drafted in the military so they should be able to vote.

Why do you think the Federal Government took more and more control over the setting of voter qualifications? Why couldn't the States have done this?


What are the Universal requirements of Voting?

Citezen of the US, residence for a certain period of time, 18 years old

For what reasons do most States require voter registration?

Identifies eligible voters and prevents fraud

What is the Motor Voter Law? What is its purpose?

Registration at the DMV and other public offices in order to increase number of registered voters

Why do election officials keep poll books? Why is it a good idea to purge them every few years?

To make sure only registered voters vote. Get rid of those who are not in that precinct any more

How was the poll tax used as a voting qualification?

Only certain people could afford the tax

Do you think you need to read to be a well informed voter today? Back 100 years ago?

No you can get information on the TV or radio without reading.

What is gerrymandering? What other devices were used to disenfranchise African Americans?

Drawing electoral lines to limit voting strength of a group or party. Poll tax, literacy requirement, violence, threatening them if they registered to vote

What part do injunctions play in the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

That was the main way that the new laws were enforced to make Southern leaders comply with them.

What is preclearance?

pre-approval of local election laws for states with <50% voter turnout

Identify the major civil rights laws enacted since the 1950's. Describe voting rights provisions in these laws.

Civil Rights act of 1957 - set up Civil Rights Commission; Civil Rights act of 1960 - set up federal voting referees; Civil Rights Act of 1964 - Outlawed racial discrimination in several forms incluing jobs; Voting Rights Act of 1965 - Got rid of literacy tests and poll taxes forever in all elections including local ones

How does a person's sense of political efficacy affect his or her voting behavior?

If they don't think their vote matters, they will be less likely to vote

What is the gender gap?

Women are more likely to vote than men

How are party identification and straight-ticket voting related?

Party identifiers are more likely to vote straight-ticket

List 3 sociological factors that affect voting behavior.

Income and occupation; education; gender; religion and ethnicity; geography; family

What is the electorate?

Population of eligible voters

What is political socialization?

How people get their political attitudes and behaviors

What is an independent voter?

Does not identify with any party

Suffrage and _____ mean approximately the same thing.


A(n) _____ is a court order that can be used to compel a public official to carry out a law.


Some people do not have a sense of ______ and therefore do not bother to vote.

political efficacy

Voters with a strong allegiance to a party often engage in ______when they go to the polls.

straight-ticket voting

What 3 factors to all 50 states use to set voter qualifications?

Citizenship, residency, and age

Name 2 reasons why States adopted residence requirements.

To allow some time to become familiar with the candidates and the issues in a given area. To prevent voters from outside the area who were bribed from coming in to vote

How did Congress require States to ease their registration requirements in 1993?

The Motor Votor Act - allowed people to register to vote when they got their drivers liscence, to register by mail, and to make registration forms available in local social service offices.

What was the purpose of the 15th amendment? Name 3 ways some Southern states tried to circumvent it.

Lifted restriction by race. Still had literacy tests, poll taxes, and they were threatened when they tried to register or at the polls when they tried to vote.

To whom does the Civil Rights Commission report the findings?

Congress and the president

How did Martin Luther King, Jr's voter registration drive affect the passage of national civil rights legislation?

His drive and marches, led to violence by the white leaders which was televised and resulted in quick laws developed by Lyndon Johnson

What are the 2 key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Eliminated poll taxes and literacy tests

What is ballot fatigue?

Too many decisions on one ballot, people are less likely to vote farther down on the ballot

Why is nomination so important in the electoral process?

It narrows down to 2 candidates that everyone can pick from

Explain the difference between a closed and open primary

Closed primary - only party members can participate; Open primary - all voters can participate

What is a non-partisan election?

Election where the candidates are not identified by party (like school board, local offices)

What is the purpose of absentee voting?

To allow voters who are disabled or have difficulty getting to the polls a chance to vote.

What is a ballot?

The device by which voters register their choices in an election.

What is a polling place?

The place where voters who live in a certain precinct go to vote.

What are Political Action Committees (PACs)

They are the political arms of special interest groups and other organizations who have a stake in politics

What is a subsidy? What level election are campaign subsidies most important?

Funding from the government. Presedential

How did soft money create a loophole in federal election-finance law?

Before 2002, there were limits of hard money (cash) contributions but not on soft money - funds given to party organizations for "party-building activities" like candidate recruitment, voter registration drives, etc.

How do hard money and soft money differ?

Hard money is contributions specifically to elect candidates for congress and the presidency which has limits (is regulated). Soft money is for "party-building" activities and is unregulated (no limits)

cite two examples that show why American government may be described as government by party.

closed primary

Where voters go to cast their ballots.

Polling place

In a _____, voters must choose between the 2 top finishers in an earlier primary election.

runoff primary

Because of the _____, candidates can benefit from the popularity of another candidate on the ballot from their party.

coattail effect

_____ is given to State and local party organizations for "party-building activities"

soft money

One commonly heard criticism of the ______ primary is that it encourages "raiding"


Each _____ has one polling place


What are the 5 broad categories that describe how nominations are made?

Self-announcement, caucus, convention, direct primary, and petition

At which level is the convntion still a major nominating device in American politics?

Some of the states

What is the overall purpose and importance of election law in the American political process?

It ensures that elections are free, honest, and accurate.

To what extent is the Federal Government Involved in the regulation of elections? Give at least 3 examples of federal laws that regulate elections.

Congress chooses the date, time and place of federal elections, Civil Rights acts of 1957 and 60, Voting Rights Act of 1965; Help America Vote Act of 2002

What is the difference between the office-group ballot and the party column ballot?

Office group groups by office, while the party column separates the party's to make straight-ticket voting easier

Why did Congress force the States to abandon the use of punch card ballots?

Many are not punched all the way through and cannot be read by a computer so are thrown out

How important is money in the election process?

It is key as campaigns requires millions of dollars

Name 5 types of private donors to campaigns.

Small contributors ($5-$10 or so); Large individuals or families (much larger donations); The candidates themselves; PACs; temporary organizations for fundraising

What was the purpose of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002?

To ban soft-money contributions to the political parties

What is a medium?

A means of communication

What are the 4 major mass media that are important in politics?

Television, newspapers/magazines, radio, and the internet

What limits are there on the media's influence?

Very few people follow politics in the news; they only read and listen to what they want and what relates to their party; and most content is not very in-depth, but just superficial.

What is public policy?

Areas of interest to the government that require policy

List and describe 3 main areas in which political parties and interest groups differ.

1) Parties nominate candidates, interest groups don't; 2) Parties are interested winning elections and controlling government, interest groups are interested in influencing government policies; 3) Parties are interested in the whole range of public affairs while interest groups usually focus on one issue or area.

How do interest groups stimulate interest in public affairs?

They develop and promote policies they like and oppose policies that they see as threats to their interest.

Name at least 3 additional funcitons of interest groups.

They provide useful specialized and detailed information to the government on their interest area; They encourage political participation in like minded people; They act as watch dogs - checks and balances to assure performance of those in office.

Why are interest groups often criticized?

Some push an agenda that is not in the best interest of Americans, some have too much influence; they do not necessarily represent the views of all the people for whom they claim to speak

What are the 4 major types of economic based interest groups?

1) Business groups; 2) Labor groups; 3) Agricultural Groups; Professional groups

What reasons other than economic ones are interest groups formed?

Groups that promote causes, or the welfare of certain groups of individuals, or religious organizations

What is a public interest group?

An interest group that works for the good of all people and not for a small group

What are the 3 reasons interest groups reach out to the public?

1) Give the public information that it thinks people should have; 2) To build a positive image for the group: 3) To promote a particular public policy

Why do interest groups use propaganda?

To persuade the public to believe in their cause.

Why to interest groups try to influence political parties?

Because most of the government's policy-making machinery is organized by political parties

What is a single interest group?

PACs that focus all their efforts on one issue like health care or abortion

How is lobbying used to influence public policy?

They interact directly with the congressmen to persuade them to agree with their side of the issuemnm

The events and issues of concern to all the people in a society.

Public Affairs

PACs devoted to one issue

single-interest group

A type of interest group that works for the pubic good

public interest group

The means by which group pressures are brought to bear on all aspects of the policy-making process


Of or from the common people, the average voters

Grass roots

Interest groups exist for the purpose of influencing _______.

Public policy

Why are interest groups sometimes called "pressure groups" or "special interests?"

They exist to pressure/persuade policy

At what levels of government can you find interest groups operating?

all levels

In what ways are interest groups both similar to and different from political parties?

They both are groups of people united for a political cause; parties can nominate; parties worry about the "who" - the candidate, and special interest groups worry about the "what" - policy/issues and platform.

How do interest groups add an element of checks and balances to the polical process?

They analyze performance on there given issue

Summarize the debate over the role interest groups play in the American politics.

They are self-serving, but they also have benefits in educating people on public affairs issues, watchdog of the government, and provide specialized information to the government

Why is the US calld "a nation of joiners"?

We have thousands of organizations that we join readily

What is the difference between private and public-interest groups?

Private has the interest of the specific group, while public has the interest of all people in society

What are the goals of propaganda?

To persuade, convince, brainwash

To what extent are most interest groups concerned about elections?

Most interest groups focus on the public policy-making process. The exception to that are the single interest groups who support or oppose candidates on the basis of the stand on that one issue.

What stage of policymaking are lobbyists involved?

All levels

The Lobbying Discolsure Act requires registration by all those individuals and organizations that do what?

Seek to influence members of Congress, their staffers, or any policy-maker in the executive branch from the top down

Rep/Dem - Favor strong military and defense spending


Rep/Dem - Taxes increase % with income


Rep/Dem - National Health Care


Rep/Dem - Reduced taxes on small business


Rep/Dem - Tougher laws on industrial pollution


Rep/Dem - More oil Drilling in the US and offshore


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