Terms in this set (10)

Definition
Party polarization is the division that exists between Democrats and Republicans because of the extreme differences that exist between the beliefs and ideas of many political parties.

Trends
-Generally, party polarization was pretty high for both the House and the Senate.
-Around 1919, the gap that existed between the parties' ideologies began to diminish.
-However, polarization began to increase once more near 1951.
-The Senate held a higher rate of polarization from 1879 to about 1890. Afterwards, the House displayed the most ideological differences from about 1890 to 1959. After 1959, party polarization began to rise again within both the House and the Senate.

Causes
-Single-issue groups entice candidates to publicly stand for and vote for the group's issue, which can influence a candidate's stance and drive a wedge between the opposing candidates and their parties.
-Voters tend to cast their votes with candidates who identify with the same party as they do. Thus if the majority of the winning candidate's voters share similar ideologies that oppose the other party's ideologies, the new member of Congress will most likely make decisions in favor of that majority. This then creates a division in Congress similar to the division that already exists between voters who identify with different parties.

Effect
-Gridlock becomes more common as party polarization increases. When democrats and republicans are at completely opposite ends of an issue, gridlocks sometimes happen because reaching a compromise is very tough.
a)
1. Aid candidates in their campaigns by establishing a party platform and having the candidate stick to it. Political parties unite people that share the same political interests in an election. They create a strong party base and bring together the electorate.

2. Help contribute to campaigns by donating money to campaigns, hold conventions to gain support of party. They also hold debates that are televised. They are responsible for educating voters on their candidates views.

b)
The majority party in congress promotes their parties public policy agenda. Especially in the house, the majority party has the power to place major party members on strong committees in order to have their public policy bills passed. Their role in placing members on committees and delegating rules to how bills will be debated promote their public policy agenda and allow it to be passed more easily.

c)
1. Direct primaries- candidates used to be chosen at party conventions by members of the party. They could choose the candidate that they believed would enforce the party's platform the most. With direct primaries, this power has been taken away from then and they no longer have direct influence over what candidate will be chosen that they will have to advocate for. For example, in the recent 2012 election, mitt Romney was not as conservative as the Republican Party would have hoped, and when he ultimately lost the election the party partly blamed it on how he did not stick to their platform enough. If they had retained the power to choose thief candidates then the outcome of the election would have been different

2. Candidate-centered campaigns- because campaigns have become more focused on the candidates rather than they party platform. Before, the party was able to accomplish what it wanted, while now the candidate has the ability to stay from the party's goals. People are starting to focus more on who a candidate is and what they stand for, rather than the party they belong to. This causes more candidate than party centered voting and less of a strong are for political parties. This has weakened the influence of political parties over the political process because voters are beginning to pay less attention to the party than the candidate, and the candidate can stray from what the party wants. For example, Mitt Romney was critisized for having public healthcare while he was governor of Massachusetts, which went against his party's platform.

d)
Party polarization is a greater amount of separation in the two main party's ideals and a great separation on their ideas on public policy, foreign policy, and other main issues. Their differences in idealogy strengthen their influence in congress because congress members vote based more on their party association. Because the two main parties disagree so much, when bills are actually passed they contain at least one aspect that the party supports because most members have to like the bill to pass it, whether it is their parties bill or not. For example, the debate of gun control in congress has become so polarized that if an agreement 10 actually met, the each party will have an aspect of the bull to vote in their party's favor if there is a big divide in idealogy, increasing the party influence in congress.
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