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CH 16: Political Parties

political party

Packet: groups of people who share similar beliefs about how the government should be run and how the issues facing our country should be solved.
Textbook:a group of individuals with broad common interests who organize to nominate candidates for office, win elections, conduct government, and determine public policy


the practice of granting favors to reward party loyalty


a private meeting of party leaders to choose candidates for office

direct primary

an election in which party members select people to run in the general election

open primary

an election in which all voters may participate

party platform

a statement of a political party's principles, beliefs, and positions on vital issues

political action committee

an organization formed to collect money and provide financial support for political candidates

soft money

money raised by a political party for general purposes, not designated for a candidate


the right to vote

poll tax

money paid in order to vote

interest group

a group of people with common goals who organize to influence government


direct contact made by a lobbyist in order to persuade government officials to support the policies their interest group favors

mass media

means of communication, such as tv, newspapers, movies, books, the internet that influences large audiences

One-party system

The party is the government. In elections only the party's candidates appear on the ballot, voters choose which party member to elect.

multi-party system

the most common form of party system. Allows for more than one party allowing a wide range of choices for voters.

two-party system

two major parties compete for vote although minor parties exist they stand little chance to succeed as the two major parties dominate politics and elections.

Major Party Eras

1. First Two Party era: Federalists (manufacturing vision) vs. Democratic Republicans (agrarian vision)
2. Second Two Party Era: Democrats and Whigs- this era fell apart over sectional issues like tariffs, slavery, and expansion.
3. Third Two Party Era: Democrats vs. Republicans
4. We are currently under an era of Divided Government where one party controls the White House and another party controls Congress. Currently we have a Democrat for a President, the Dems control the Senate and the Republicans control the House. Makes it more likely for legislative gridlock to occur, difficult to pass needed legislation.

5 Roles of parties

1. Create balance between the majority and minority party
2. Primary goal to win elections: key role in the nomination and support of candidates to run for election on behalf of the party
3. work to get favorable policy passed that reflects the interest of the party
4. Inform the citizens (provide voter cues) about the candidates, issues and party's beliefs about the issues

Influence of parties on politics


Does the United States have a multi, two party or single party system?

The US has a two party system- meaning in different eras of history we usually have two dominant parties that compete to win elections and pass policy. We have many third parties but they face major obstacles in winning elections so the two dominant prevail.

Typical Democratic Party Platform


Typical Republican Party Platform

Generally support lower taxes, less government intervention in the economy but greater government intervention in social areas to protect traditional social values.

Political spectrum- identify extreme statements

Remember- analyze if the government is asked to assume a greater role- if yes in the economy answer is to the left. If yes in social/moral answer is to the right. If the individual/business assumes a greater role in the economy then it is to the right, if there is less intervention and more social liberty in the social/moral issues then it is to the left.

Party in power in the White House and in Congress

White House- Democrats
Senate- Democrats

Political Culture

a wide set of shared values and beliefs favored by most Americans. Ex. freedom, equality, democracy

Political Ideology

a set of basic beliefs about life, culture, government and society (could be at the individual level, group or party)

political socialization

process by which individuals learn their political beliefs and attitudes through personal background and life experiences

factors in political socialization

family, peers, media, education, religion, socio-economic etc. #1 family #2 media

who is more likely to vote (current trend but subject to change)

Race: white
Gender: female
Age: elderly
Socio-economic status: upper class
Education: well educated

Voting Rights History

by the 1830's: universal white male suffrage
15th Amendemnt: right to vote extended to African American males
Jim Crow segregation laws took right to vote away through grandfather clause (can't vote if grandparent a slave), poll tax (had to pay $) and a literacy test (had to prove competency in knowing how the gov't operates).
19th Amendment: gave women the right to vote
Civil Rights Voting Act: extended the right to vote to formerly disenfranchised groups, minorities etc.
Voting age changed from 21 to 18
now 95% of the public can vote unless you are under 18, not a US Citizen or have been convicted of a felony

Candidate centered campaigns

campaigns focused on candidates and less on issues
speeches replaced with sound bites (7.8 seconds)
24/7 media scrutiny report on day to day campaign activities (scandals, gaffes, rallies etc.)
horse-race journalism focusing on who is ahead or behind in the polls

Bias by omission

leaving one side out of an article or news report, or even over a period of time, that could support or disprove the other side

Bias by selection of sources

using more sources that support one view or another including citing experts that stack the cards in favor of one side over the other

bias by story selection

articles or news reports that tell one side of the story to the omission of the other side

bias by placement

since most people read the headlines the other point of view can be tucked away in the middle or end where people are less likely to read it.

bias by labeling

comes in two forms: tagging individuals with extreme labels, or an article or news cast that presents a person or side in very positive terms without identifying the liberal or conservative bent of the person/side in an effort to sway the audience's opinion.

bias by spin

a story has only one interpretation of an event or policy to the exclusion of the other, spin involves tone- the subjective comments about objective facts to make one side look better than the other


implied or direct endorsements from celebrities


name-calling or groundless assertions


use of popular symbols or causes to create a positive connotation for a candidate (likewise the use of negative symbols and connotations

card stacking

use of statistics in a one-sided manner, or omitting information that is crucial to drawing an informed conclusion

glittering generalities

vague words or phrases that have a positive effect on the viewer

contrast or sandwhich

juxtaposing positive words/images with negative word/images

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