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political party

a group of persons who seek to control government through the winning of elections and and the holding of public office

the two major political parties

republicans and democrats

the five functions of political parties

nominating candidates, informing and activating supporters, bonding agent function, governing, and watchdog

nominating candidates

their major function, recruting, choosing, and gathering support for candidates for office

informing and activating supporters

inform the people through pamphelts, signs, buttons, stickers, ads in the newspapers, magazines, etc.

bonding agent function

party serves as a bonding agent to ensure the good performance of its candidates and officeholders


congress & state legislatures are chose on party lines and they conduct much of their business on the basis of partisanship


strong support of one's party and policies


parties act as a watchdog over the party in power to criticizes the policies and behavior of the party in power

policies of why the US has a two-party system

historical basis, force of tradition, electoral system, and american ideological consensus

historical basis

rooted in the beginnings of the nation, constitution made no provision for political parties

America's first two parties

federalist and antifederalist

force of tradition

nation began with the two party system, system has always been here

electoral system

they are winner-takes-all elections which means the person with the most votes wins; this discourages minor party candidates and non major party

american ideological consensus

americans share the same basic principles and beliefs


consisting of several distinct cultures and groups

single member districts

one candidate is elected to each office on the ballot( all elections held in this country are this type)

one party systems

only exist in dictatorships because the dictator is the government and its own political party

party membership patterns

membership in a party is voluntary meaning you choose to be in the party, individuals identify themselves in a party for many reasons such as family and age

minor party

most are short-lived, but few have existed for decades

types of minor parties

ideological patterns, single issue, economic protest, and splinter parties

ideological parties

based on a set of extreme beliefs
ex. Socialist, Libertarian

single issue

focus on only one public-policy matter, most of these fade away as issue fades
ex. Right to life, free soil, know nothings

economic protest

rooted in periods of economic discontent, those that have proclaimed their disgust with the major parties
ex. Greenbacks, populist party

splinter parties

those that have split away from the major parties due to failure of someone for the major party nomination
ex. Green, dixiecrats, Bull Moose

why are minor parties important

they can pull votes away from one of the major parties, they take stands on controversial issues to draw attention, and they propose ideas that the major parties can use to gain support

national convention

the party's national voice that meets in the summer of every pres election to nominate the presidential and vice president candidates

national committee

the working body who deal with the party's affrairs
ex. RNC and DNC

national chairperson

leader of the national committee, chosen for a 4 year term by national committee, choice made by nominated presidential candidate and approved by the national committee,

congressional campaign committee

work to re-elect incumbants and to make sure that the seats given up by retiring party members remain in party. members are chosen by their colleages and serve 2 years

state organization

built around a state central committee headed by a state chairperson

local organization

follow the electoral map of the state and it is a party unit for each district


a unit which cities are often divided for the election of city council members


smallest unit of election administration

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