Chapter 12 Political Parties - Study Questions (w/Answers) Provide answers to the following questions.
1)What is the difference between a winner-take-all system and a proportional representation system?
Under the winner-take-all primary the candidate who wins the most votes in a state secures all of that state’s delegates. Under the proportional representation primary candidates who secure a threshold percentage of votes are awarded delegates in proportion to the number of popular votes won.
2) What is a political party? A group that has candidates, voters, office holders, and activists in it who all consider themselves part of a group under a particular label. They also want to see and elect people who believe in what they believe and are members of their party to office.
3) Discuss two functions of a political party. The main purpose of political parties is to join people, who hold similar points of view about the government, together. These groups work to participate and influence the government by having members elected to a government position. Even though many people choose to be associated with a certain party, they don't all share exactly the same beliefs. Instead, beliefs about how government should be run are shared. Another function of a political party is to influence public opinion. By that, parties should make an effort to sway people to support and to vote for them. They should be the other "option" to an existing opposing candidate.
4) Discuss what a third party is and why they occur. Be sure to give examples. A third party is a minor alternative party to the Democrats and the Republicans, which arise from issues that are neglected for the major parties, but are important to the citizens. They occur when people have different views on government philosophy, such as the Socialist and the Communists, from economic protest, such as the Agrarians, or sectionalism, such as the Dixiecrats, or the green party who campaign for the environment. The problem with being a single-issue party is that often one of the two major parties will "steal" the issue, finally addressing it and thereby making the third party unnecessary.
5)Name two third parties that you find interesting, and discuss what they contributed to the political dialogue in the United States.
  1. Green Party: A party building their platform on the issue of saving the environment. The leader Ralph Nader ran for president in 2000 and didn’t win. But he won 97,488 votes in the critical state Florida, which ultimately cost Al Gore the presidency to Bush.
  2. Bull Moose Party: A party formed by Theodore Roosevelt after he felt the country was going astray under the leadership of William Howard Taft. It was created after a split from Republican Party. Ironically, the amazingly popular Roosevelt lost to Woodrow Wilson in the election of 1912.

  1. Dixiecrats: also called the States' Rights Democrat, they broke away from the Democratic Party in 1948 because they opposed the civil rights programs of the Democratic Party and the candidacy of Harry S. Truman. Recognized as a splinter party and consisted of only southern democrats in states such as Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and parts of Tennessee. Their party slogan was "Segregation Forever!"
  2. American Independent Party: A party established in 1967 with a strong base in the South. Had a lot of success with former Alabama Governor George Wallace in the 1968 Presidential Elections. They opposed civil rights act of 1964 and welfare issues.The party has had Ballot status in California since the 1968 elections and is still active there.

  1. Free Soilers - In the mid-1800's, James K. Polk got the Democratic nomination for President. The 8th President, Martin Van Buren, having already lost one re-election campaign, was nominated by the Free Soilers to run. Van Buren split the Democratic vote, giving the victory to the Whig Party's Zachary Taylor in 1848.
  2. Populist Party - In the late 1800's, after several decades of instability within the Federal Bank, the Populist party formed, and received a good portion of votes in popular and electoral categories in the 1892 election. When absorbed (mostly by the Democratic Party), they brought with them their platform including the demand for direct election of senators, which later became the 17th Amendment to the Constitution


6) What is organizational party? An organizational party is basically the people within a party who organize and set up everything thing that needs to get done for the party. It is one of the three named parties within the party- the other two being the governmental party and the party in the electorate.
7)Compare and contrast the historical and contemporary roles of political conventions. Before technology, in the early days of politics, conventions were the main way to introduce candidates to other candidates for the same party. Everyone met their to decide who would represent their political party in that election. Nowadays, there are caucuses that determine that, and there are lots of different forms of media to spread the word about different candidates and their issues. Conventions nowadays are more a continued tradition from the past and more of like a public appearance of a candidate rather than actually saying information about them. It's a formality today, unlike before, when conventions were necessary to the election process. An actual convention with every member of the party would be physically impossible today in a world with so many voters. However, in the old days, literally every voter would be present at a convention to listen to and/or discuss issues.
8)Describe the responsible party model, and explain why its advocates believe it would make for a more democratic government in the United States. Do you agree? What do you think are its strengths and weaknesses? Explain.
9)How do parties function in the legislature? Parties function in the legislature in a variety of ways. In the congress the parties are divided along majority/minority lines and much of the leadership is decided by caucuses which function within a party. The members of the legislature usually vote with the rest of the party, but because of the size, checks and balances, and other factors it doesn't always work like this.
10)How do parties affect the judiciary? Parties affect the judiciary in many ways. First is whether the judge the president approves is republican or democrat. If the judge is democrat he or she will think in a democratic way. If the judge is republican he or she will think in a republican way. The judges most likely will vote towards their party.
11)Briefly discuss the nature of changing partisan alignments. well new political issues have emerged since way back in the day however, the basic issues are still the more important I believe. (They're the basic issues for a reason. No one is ever going to find a party or a candidate in which they are identically to.) In uniform partisanship basically there is a shift in votes occurring at all levels of the government, while split-level partisan change is on various levels of the government. When the partisanship is uniform, sometimes voters will vote for different parties at different levels of the government, usually the Republicans will dominate the federal elections while the Democrats are more towards the state elections in a split-level partisan.
12)How have American parties evolved? Discuss their history from the Founding to the present including threats to the party system and how parties have overcome those threats. Both parties practice pragmatism that allows them to mold to the constantly changing views and beliefs held by the majority of society. Thus doing so, when a problem arises, they can simply change to reflect the publics opinion. A good example of this could be that predominantly, there are 2 main parties (the Republicans and Democrats) and a few rising third parties. The 2 parties try to take over the 3rd parties by adopting their main platform and essentially blotting them out.
13)What are the roles and functions of political parties in America? The roles of political parties in America are to seek to attain political power within a government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns, and to try to gain supporters by campaigning and putting out ideas that would appeal to the general public. Parties often hold a specific ideology and vision but also may represent a coalition among different interests.
14)Discuss the basic structures of American political parties. The basic structure of a political party would be National Committees, Leadership, National Conventions, States and Localities, and informal groups. National Committees are the national policy creators of each party. Chairpersons are usually selected by the president of the party in power and the party national committee chooses the chairperson for the other party. National conventions are held every four years for nominating presidential candidates. Parties are structured at State and Local levels. Informal groups would be groups like interest groups or the National Federation of Democratic Women.
15)Discuss the "party-in-government," including the role of parties in all three branches of the national government and the role of parties at the state and local levels.
The Congressional Party gather to select party leaders and to arrange for the appointment of members of each chambers committees. This eventually organizes and operates the Congress. The Presidential Party is expected to bring the country together as a chief of state and also to make a ruling as head of the government, sometimes they must be an effective leader of a divided party. The Judiciary is the department of government which administers the law relating to civil and criminal justice. The State Governments are the basic structural system that makes are political force, they are either governors or state legislatures.
16)Discuss the modern transformation of party organization. Be sure to include the differences in the ways the Democrats and Republicans have adapted to modern campaigning.
At the begging the Republican part were underdogs to the democrats. Because of this underdog mentality the Republican party pushed harder to gain more strength and reform the party which lead to great changes over time. So because of each other fighting for political supremacy they begin to one up each other which can either be good or bad for the common American voter.
17)Utilizing what you have learned, if you were to start your own political party today how would you do it? Discuss issues, candidates, strategies, and so on. If I were to create my own political party I would first have to have a set of issues that I would want to have resolved. They would need to be important issue so that I could gain the support of the pubic. I would also have to make a campaign for a person who is part of my party to run for president as a third party candidate. We would hopefully get somebody with prior political experience like a governor or mayor. We would then be on a campaign trip to all the major spots with the most votes in the electoral college. Then from there its up to the people if they decide to vote my candidate in.
18)Explain the advantages and disadvantages of a two-party system compared to a multiparty system. What would the United States be like if it had a multiparty system? The main advantage of the two party system is that it provides voters with a clear choice. Also, it helps to prevent extremism, since if one side becomes extremist, the other then garners all the votes.One advantage it has over the multi party system is that in the two party system, each party has a stance on almost every issue, whereas in a multi party system, many parties don't even recognize certain issues. If the US had a multi party system, many laws would most likely have not gone into effect, since there would be a much larger amount of disunity in both the legislative houses.
20) What is the role of linkage institutions? What are the main linkage institutions in the United States? How do political parties perform a linkage function? Linkage institutions provide a way for people to get involved in government and the political process. Political parties provide many ways for individuals to become involved in the political process, from working to get votes or to actually running for office. They are not the only linkage institutions; others include blogs, non-partisan local govs, and school boards.
21)Present evidence to support the argument that political parties have waning influence on American politics.
More and more voters today are becoming independents or non-affiliated with any sort of party. Abortion is a major swing topic for many people. The fewer and fewer people associated with either the Democratic or Republican parties gives the parties less wiggle room for influencing voters or changing their mind on an issue.
22)Describe the three major components of an American political party, and what the major tasks of a party are. Why is our politics so reliant on parties to organize public opinion? Explain. The three major components of an American political party are national, state, and local. Each component has its own responsibilities and represents the diverse interests of the party. A political party is responsible for mobilizing support, uniting people with similar interests, and encouraging voting. Politics is extremely reliant on political parties for organizing public opinion because political parties are the major agents of change. Politics is also dependent on parties because people usually associate themselves with a particular party based on their personal interests.
23)Describe the nature and functions of political parties in America. What major tasks do the parties perform? Parties link all institutions of power together, they are the basis for mediation and negation between the branches. Party connection is one means of increasing accountability in government and election campaigns. They help people get out and vote. Parties recruit thousands of candidates, organize get money, and get people to run the campaign. Also parties encourage stability in the type of coalitions they form.
24)According to Schattschneider, "democracy is unthinkable save in terms of the parties." Expand on this comment, explaining what it is that parties do, and why these things are so important to democracy. Provide specific examples, as needed.
25)What is rational-choice theory? Evaluate the Downs model for a rational political party and present a graph that depicts the model.
26)Evaluate the claim that in a democracy candidates should say what they mean to do if elected and be able to do what they promised once they are elected. To what extent do party promises result in public policy? What changes do the advocates of the "responsible party model" suggest in order to ensure that party promises be turned into public policy?
27)Explain the role of the party in the electorate. What recent trends are occurring in party identification, and what effect does this have on party politics and elections?
The role of the party in the electorate is very significant in the element of political parties because the mass of potential voters will ultimately be the deciding factor in an election. However, it is recently becoming one of the weakest parts of the U.S political party system. People are becoming less likely to identify with a single party confidently and continuously.Even if they do belong to a party, it is very likely they are voting for the opposing side occasionally, according to recent studies. So, party identification is becoming a less reliable factor for determining how someone will vote.
28)Describe and evaluate party organization at the local, state, and national levels. What have been the recent trends in the distribution of party power? The organization of parties is generally at three different levels: national, state, and local. National consists of the quadrennial national convention, the party's national chairpersons, and the party's national committee. Next is the state, which consists of state central committees and state conventions, and congressional district committees. Lastly, there is the local level of organizations, which include city and county committees, precinct and ward committees, party activists and volunteers, and party identifiers and voters. Recent trends between the three levels are that they tend to overlap, and more often then not, state and local parties have more influence than the national party around their region, and their decisions tend to override those of the national party.
29)Compare and contrast the two major party platforms on the following issues: abortion, the environment, health care, taxes, defense spending and education. The Democrats favor the freedom of choice concerning abortion while the Republicans favor outlawing or curbing access to abortion. The Democrats favor government involvement in cerserving the environment including legislation, regulation of business, etc,. while the Republicans favor private conservation efforts. The Democrats public health care while the Republicans favor privatization of health care. In general, Republicans are in favor of lower taxes and Democrats favor higher taxes. EX- Republicans favor tax cuts for the rich while the Democrats do not. The Republicans favor higher government spending while the Democrats favor moderate spending. The Democrats favor spending money on education and the Republicans favor less spending and incentives like private school vouchers.

30)Do parties keep their campaign promises? For what purpose is a party platform, and how well does it predict the policies the party attempts to carry out when its candidates win office? In your opinion, are America's two political parties sufficiently different, or too much the same? Explain. In a lot of cases, winning political parties do not keep their campaign promises. They use these promises to get elected, and when they are elected, they really do not need to go through with them. They may appear to be trying, but now that their ultimate goal of being elected has been reached, they rarely go all the way through with these promises. In this sense, This contributes to the party platform, which is where the candidate explains what he or she stands for and what he or she is against. In this sense, the political parties are very much the same: They both have platforms and both of their goals are to get elected. They are different, however, in the details of their platforms.
31)Describe the significance of a critical election, party realignment, and what is meant by a "party era." Do you think 1992 was a critical election? Why, or why not? A critical election is like that of 2006 when the house and/or senate experiences a party realignment, when the majority party changes. This is important in this "party era" because normally you can tell which way decisions will go by the party lines. In 1992, the presidential election experienced a party realignment, however the senate was already democratic so no change was made there. I think it was a critical election because it is much easier for the senate to make decisions when they know the president will support them.
32)Briefly describe the five major "party eras" in United States history, which party was dominant and which was secondary in each, and explain the reasons for the dominant party's success. Be specific. George Washington tried to avoid splitting the country into political parties; however, once John Adams became presidents two major political parties were formed. At this point the parties were the Federalist and Republican. After Adams, Jefferson stated the Republican era. This was named “Era of Good Feeling” because there was only one real party dominating the presidential elections, once the Federalist Party collapsed. Due to the corrupt bargain Andrew Jackson split from the Republican Party and started the Republican-Democrats. The Whigs were started as the new Federalist Party. Instead of the two major party division, it was a selection divide before the civil war: anti-slavery vs. pro-slavery. The Republican Party replaced the Whig Party, when they fell apart after the Compromise of 1850. Lincoln was the first Republican elected president. From then on it was the Republicans vs. the Democrats in the American two party political party system.
The Five Eras: Federalist vs. Republicans, Republicans vs. Republican-Democrats, Democrats vs. Whigs, Pro-Slavery vs. Anti-Slavery, Democrats vs. Republicans

33)Using examples from the history of party eras in the United States, explain the pattern and process of shifting party dominance. When one party takes office and people like the way they run things they are likely to elect that parties candidate again. They will continue to do this until someone from that party does something people don’t like or people grow tired of that party’s policies and decide its time for a change. Like Andrew Jackson, he held office for 2 terms and then Martin Van Buren took office immediately after. However he had so many problems in his term neither he nor his party gained control of the government in the next election for a time.
34)Some political scientists talk about a party realignment in process today. What is meant by this, and what evidence do they give for it? How does party neutrality fit into this argument? Explain. Party Realignment means that a new coalition comes to power replacing an old dominant coalition of the other party. Realignments usually center around critical elections and changes in issues, party leaders, the regional and demographic bases of power of the two parties, and structure or rules of the political system. There have been different realignments proposed such as a 30-36 year cycle or not having any specific cycle at all. These sweeps often have gaps and this is where the third parties come into play. They fill in the small gaps that cause them to gain a sudden grasp of part of the voters, which the other two dominant parties use to gain the votes of the voters back.
35)Describe the impact of third parties in American elections. What are the different types of third parties. How successful have they been? What role do they serve in the system? Would you prefer to see more parties to choose from on the ballot? Why, or why not? Some kinds of third parties are the Populist Party, the Independent Party, the Green Party(which focuses on environmental issues), and historical ones like TR's Bull Moose Party. Most third parties are outshined by the two major parties, but some, like Ralph Nader's Green Party, get to have some coverage in the news and gain a good percentage of votes. There have been a couple times when the third parties shifted the elections, one important example being that from the 2000 presidential election. Votes that were cast to the Green Party's Ralph Nader switched the scale and essentially took votes away from the Democrats, thus enabling the Republican George W. Bush to, in essence, earn more votes. It would be nice to see more choices on the ballot, however, too many choices can lead to an unevenly distributed vote count between an array of useless third parties.
36)Explain the role of third parties in American politics. Give examples to illustrate your answer.
Third parties tend to grab people by focusing on one issue like the environment (Green Party), sectionalism (Dixiecrats), economic protests (Populists), ideology (Communist), or magnetic personalities (Bull Moose Party and TR). In modern days third parties use more than just one of those. They create a little competition and the votes that they receive can change the outcome of the presidency like when Al Gore ran in 2000. Third parties do the same at Congressional levels. They also make the two parties have to appeal to the interests of the third party’s supporters so that they can have the votes of those people. Many times the two parties will make an alliance with a third party that has many supporters.

37)Some have argued that America's winner-take-all system fails to adequately represent differences of opinion in government. Would you prefer to see proportional representation? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Explain.
Yes, the more ideas, the better and more balanced America will be in the future. Strengths: There are multiple systems: partial, center based, and multi-party systems. Each can be very effective and are used in other countries. Weaknesses: it can have groups avoid single issues and can only elect candidates who respond and support only to that particular group. It also opens the door to having a large numbers of candidates supported by an ever-decreasing amount of voters.