Political Parties, Interest Groups, PACs, and 527 Groups

political parties
play a formal role in trying to influence the outcomes of elections and legislative struggles
bipartisan system
reinforced by the nation's electoral system
party characteristics
serve as intermediaries between people and the government; made up of grassroots members, activist members, and leadership; organized to raise money, present positions on policy, get candidates elected to office; created outside of the Constitution
primary elections
since 1960, states have passed laws requiring parties to select candidates through these state-run processes
splinter/bolter parties
unite around a feeling that the major parties are not responding o the demands of some segment of the electorate
doctrinal parties
reject the prevailing attitudes and policies of the political system
single-issue parties
parties formed to promote one principle
Independent candidates
run without party affiliation; like Eugene McCarthy in 1968 or John Anderson in 1980
subdivisions of political parties
the party among the electorate; the party in government; the party organization
functions of political parties
recruit and nominate candidates; educate and mobilize voters; provide campaign funds and support; organize government activity; provide balance through opposition of two parties; reduce conflict and tension in society
loyal opposition
minority party that constantly critiques the performance of the party in power
The current holders of elected office.
national conventions
national party plans the____held every four years to nominate a presidential candidate
split ticket
voting for a presidential candidate of one party and legislators of the other
political parties consist of groups, which consist of combinations of individuals. the larger the _____ the more likely the candidate will win.
Republican coalition
disaffected conservative Democrats, veterans' groups, religious conservatives, pro-lifers, opponents of gay rights, missile-defense supporters, opponents of affirmative action, Cuban Americans, supporters of development of natural resources on public lands
Democratic coalition
disaffected moderate Republicans, pro-choicers, African Americans, labor unions, intellectuals, people with lower incomes, city dwellers, non-Cuban Latinos, feminists, Jewish people, environmentalists
party bases
greatest ideological differences; liberals in Democratic Party, conservatives in Republican Party
Democratic characteristics
less disposed to spend on defense; less disposed to use vouchers to let students attend private schools; more disposed to spend money to advance social-welfare programs; more disposed to use government money for public education; more disposed to spend money on government-run health programs; more disposed to grant tax relief to targeted groups; against private ownership of assault weapons and for broader regulations of ownership of firearms
Republican characteristics
more disposed to spend on defense; more disposed to use vouchers for private schools and to give government aid to parochial schools; more disposed to grant tax relief to everyone, including wealthy and corporations; less disposed to spend money on social-welfare programs; less disposed to spend money on government-run health programs; less disposed to regulate firearms
party realignment
occurs when coalitions making up the two parties fall apart, such as when many of the groups that make up the majority party defect to the minority party
critical election
when a new party comes to dominate politics
usually a result of party members becoming disaffected as a result of some policy position taken by the party
interest groups
organizations dedicated to a particular political goal or to a set of unified goals
when interest groups try to influence legislators
economic, public interest, government interest
categories of interest groups in the United States
examples of economic interest groups
US Chamber of Commerce; American Farm Bureau Federation; American Nuclear Energy Council; AFL-CIO; United Auto Workers; American Medical Association; American Bar Association
examples of public interest groups
consumer groups like Public Citizen (Ralph Nader); environmental groups like Sierra Club; religious groups like Christian Coalition; women's rights, minority rights, political reform; single-issue groups like National Rifle Association, National Right to Life Committee
examples of government interest groups
states, cities, localities, foreign governments and businesses
how interest groups influence government
direct lobbying; testifying before Congress; socializing; political donations; endorsements; court action; rallying their membership; propaganda
class action suits
interest groups file lawsuits or_____to protect and advance their interests
amicus curiae briefs
(friend of the court); interest groups submit so that judges may consider their advice in respect to matters of law that directly affect the case in question
Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act
1946; intended to allow the government to monitor lobbying activities by requiring lobbyists to register with the government and publicly disclose their salaries, expenses, and nature of activities in DC
influence peddling
the practice of using personal friendships and inside information to get political advantage
Buckley v. Valeo
1976; case that equated donations with free speech; Supreme Court upheld federal limits on campaign contributions and ruled that donating money to influence elections is a form of constitutionally protected free speech
Federal Election Campaign Act
1974; allows corporations, unions, and trade associations to form political action committees as a means of raising campaign funds
restrictions on PACs
must raise money from at least 50 contributors; mus donate to at least five different candidates; may not donate more than $5,000 per year to any single candidate nor more than $15,000 to a national party per year; corporate, union, and trade must raise money from employees and members
federal limits on donations
candidates $2,300; national parties $28,500; individual PACs $5,000; sum ma not exceed $108,200 over two years
527 group
named after section of tax code that allows them; tax-exempt organization that promotes a political agenda, although they cannot expressly advocate for or against a specific candidate; not subject to campaign finance law contribution limits
examples of 527s
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth; College Republican National Committee; The Media Fund
Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (McCain-Feingold Act)
2002; changed soft money rules that make establishing new 527s a more attractive option than traditional PACs