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Politics of the United States
Interest Groups/Media/Campaigns and financing them
Terms in this set (42)
an organization of people sharing a common interest or goal that seeks to influence
Types of Interest Groups
1. Economic Interest Groups ex. Chamber of Commerce, American Medical Association
2. Public Interest Groups ex. Greenpeace, ACLU, AARP
3. Liberal Interest Groups ex. NAACP, National Abortion Rights League, American Bar
Association, Amnesty International
4. Conservative Interest Groups ex. NRA, Heritage Foundation,
a person, often a professional, attempting to influence government decisions/policies on behalf of a special interest group.
Do Interest Groups Influence Government? 1-5
1. Lobbying Congress - they might testify in Congress at hearings
2. Lobbying the Executive Branch - they may appeal directly to the White House or federal agencies
3. Lobbying the Courts - they may submit Amicus Curiae briefs
4. Litigation - bring lawsuits on behalf of their members
5. Informing the Public - provide information to the public
Do Interest Groups Influence Government? 6-11
6. Grassroots Lobbying - door-to-door information or petition drives
7. Organize Rallies/Protests
8. Endorse Candidates
9. Create Political Parties - like Nader with the Green Party
10. Contribute Campaign Money - campaign contributions through PACs
11. Sponsor "Issue Ads"
Important Regulations on Interest Groups
1. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 - lobbyist are allowed to devote only 20% of clients time to direct lobbying activities, report how much clients pay them to lobby
2. Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 - bans gifts to members of Congress and their staff, toughens disclosure requirements.
Three most important roles of the Media
1. Gatekeeper (agenda setting) - influence national political issues
2. Scorekeeper (horse race journalism)- make or break political reputations, winning or losing
3. Watchdog - close eye, can expose corruption or wrong-doing
Who regulates the Media?
1. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - regulate all electronic media
2. Supreme Court - upholds First Amendment's free press
3. Congress - may hold hearings or create new laws or regulations
4. You - the consumer of the news
Each state has its own election laws and ballots
This supports the idea of federalism by allowing states their own decision-making when it comes to elections. However, problems may arise because there are no uniform ballots
or voting machines, states might not include candidates on their ballot, and states might
have restrictive voter ID laws.
Regularly scheduled elections.
Election day is always the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even numbered years.
Fixed and staggered terms
Fixed terms: House = 2 years, Senate = 6 years, the President = 4 years.
Staggered: Every two years the entire House is up for reelection while only 1/3 of the
Senate is up for reelection.
Sometimes limited terms.
Term Limits: only the President has a term limit that was established by the 22nd Amendment that limits the President to two terms of 4 years or up to 10 years.
Plurality elections - candidate with the MOST votes wins.
Single-member District - voters in
electoral districts choose ONE representative
Proportional representation -
determines the number of seats a state has in the House of Representatives and changes every 10 years with the census.
The Electoral College.
"Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may
direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to
which the State may be entitled in the Congress..." In many states these electors are chosen by the state political parties.
ROAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE
1. Caucuses and Primaries
2. Nominating Conventions
3. General Elections
4. The Electoral College
Stage 1: Caucuses and Primaries
closed meeting of party members in each state. 6 states have party caucuses to select
special elections in which voters select candidates to be the party's nominee for president in the general election (primary season is usually from Feb - Jun). State party organizations usually decide the rules for the primaries in that particular state.
occurs when states vie for earlier primaries in order to have greater influence
in the nomination process. 70% of primaries occur before the end of March.
Stage 2: Nominating Conventions
At the nominating conventions delegates adopt a Party Platform and elect that party's
nominees for President and Vice-President.
Democrats select delegates
primarily using the proportional system
Republicans select delegate
s predominantly with the winner-takes-all system
are chosen at the state & local level and must vote for the candidate who won the popular vote.
are members of the Democratic Party establishment who serve as unpledged delegates at the party convention and are free to vote for any candidate at the convention.
Stage 3: General Elections
Prior to the general elections you will see a number of Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates where the candidates will spar over issues. Candidates from parties will often try to appeal to the center rather than right or left (as they did with the primaries) in order to maximize voter support.
Stage 4: The Electoral College
The candidate who can garner 270 electoral votes wins and will become the next President.
Candidates will focus much attention on swing states and states with large populations during
campaigns in the hopes of garnering the most electoral votes.
CANDIDATE CENTERED CAMPAIGNS
campaigns that focus on the candidates, their particular issues, and character rather than party affiliation.
Consequences of candidate-centered campaigns
1. Parties have less control over campaigns
2. More emphasis on candidates themselves than issues and party identification
3. Parasitic relationship between candidates and the media (media covers personality,
gaffs, background of candidates rather than important issues); candidates stage events
to get media coverage
First Personality Politics
First televised debates btw JFK and Nixon (1960) - JFK understood the
power of TV to influence voters; those who watched the debates thought JFK won,
those who listened on radio though Nixon won.
1. Candidates use pop culture TV shows to promote themselves (appearing on SNL,
Letterman, etc.) to reach voters
2. Sarah Palin is prime example of using her campaign in 2008 to create celebrity, but
amateur compared to Donald Trump in 2016
campaign contributions regulated and limited by the federal government that are
given directly to a candidate
unlimited and unregulated campaign contributions to federal candidates and the
national parties Supposedly for generic "party building" activities (ex: get-out-the-vote drives,
bumper stickers, yard signs, and "issue ads")
Political Action Committee (PAC)
officially registered fund-raising organization that represents interest groups in the political process.
Tax-exempt organizations created to raise money for political activities such as
voter mobilization efforts (GOTV) and issue ads.
Nonprofit, tax-exempt interest groups that can engage in varying levels of political
PACs that may raise and spend unlimited sums of money in order to advocate for
or against political candidates.
Tillman Act (1907)
the first legislation in the United States prohibiting monetary contribution to national political campaigns by corporations.
Federal Election Campaign Act (1971, 1974)
increased disclosure of contributions for
federal campaigns and 1974 amendments placed legal limits on the campaign contributions.
Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (a.k.a. McCain-Feingold Act):
banned national parties
and officeholders from raising and spending "soft money," and prohibited corporations and
unions from funding "electioneering communications" within 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election.
Buckley v. Valeo (1976)
candidates spending money to finance their own campaigns is a form of constitutionally protected free speech through the 1st Amendment
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010)
ruled spending is protected speech under
the 1st Amendment and the government cannot prohibit spending by corporations and labor unions to support or denounce individual candidates in elections
McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (2014)
struck down limits on aggregate federal campaign contributions because they violate 1st Amendment; left intact limits on individual candidate's campaign contributions per election ($2,600)
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