Ch 13 Voting & Elections - Definitions, Text Notes, Class Notes & Connecting Theory to Reality


  • front-loading: The concept of front-loading describes the increasingly common trend of states to pick an early primary date. A prime example of front-loading is the Iowa caucus coming up -- it is set for January 3rd ( which is unusually early). Iowa GOP’s Jan. 3 Caucus Date Takes Front-loading to New Level
  • runoff primary: a runoff primary occurs when none of the candidates in a primary election receive a clear majority of votes. The two candidates with the most numbers of votes compete against each other in the new, "runoff primary" to decide a winner.
  • open primary: an open primary allows all people to come and vote, regardless of party affiliation. This is different from a closed primary which only allows that specific party's registered voters to come and participate. (figure 13.1 on page 464 in the textbook shows a map of the US displaying which state has what type of primary)
  • initiative- an election when voters propose legislation and submit it to the state electorate for popular vote. An initiative allows voters to bring up legislation they want to pass that the state legislature has not passed. Differs from a referendum, where the people don't propose the legislation. Initiatives represent the public's opinion more accurately.
  • Electoral College: The Electoral College is the group of state representatives who get the final vote, or say, of who becomes president. Each state has the same number of electors as they do in the House and Senate.
  • Midterm Election: A midterm election occurs in the middle of a presidential term for the house and senate. Usually the presidential party gains seats while the party not in office loses seats. In the 2006 midterm elections, however, the president's party lost its majority in both the house and the Senate.
  • Turnout: the turnout are the people who vote that are of voting age. Only 40% of Americans of voting age vote regularly. The people that are least likely to vote are those who are 18-24. Those more likely to vote are senior citizens.
  • Unit Rule- Abolished by the Democrats, a unit rule is a traditional party practice where the majority of a state delegation can force the people in the minority to vote for the majority's candidate.
  • Super Delegate- A slot in the Democratic party's national convention that is saved for an elected party official. Super Delegates have been used since the 1984, and are supposed to be party professionals who are concerned with winning the general election contest.
  • Referendum- an election where the state legislature submits proposed legislation to the state voters for approval.The good thing about the use of a referendum is that it allows for a more direct democracy. A negative, however, is that they can be imperfect representations of the publics over all feeling because only a small percentage of voters who are self selected choose to participate in the voting process.
  • Crossover voting – when a voter participates in a primary of a party that they are not affiliated with
  • Raiding – an organized attempt to influence the results of an opposing party’s primary
  • Nonpartisan primary – a primary with no party affiliation
    Electorate - Citizens who are are eligible to vote in the upcoming elections.
  • Mandate - An order made by the electorate for the elected officials to carry out their indicated platforms.
  • Critical Election - an election that shows the beginning of party realignment through voters intent on following/ pursuing new issues or ideas.
  • crossover voting- participation in a primary that the voter has no connection to
  • Retrospective Judgment- voter's judge the performance of the party in power.
  • Prospective Judgment- Voter's evaluate a candidate based on what he or she says to do about an issue if elected.
  • General Election- Is the election when voters pick the office holders.
  • Primary Election - voters decide which candidates they like within a party and choose which will represent the party's ticket in the general elections
  • Closed Primary - Only a party's registered voters are allowed to cast a ballot
  • Regional Primary - Under a regional primary system, the nation would be divided into 5 or 6 geographic regions. Each region would consist of a certain number of states, and all states of each region would hold their presidential primary elections the same day
  • Text & Class Notes

What are the Purposes of Holding Elections?
A. Provides an opportunity for a change in leadership
B. Ensures government accountability to constituents
C. Guarantees:
a. mass political action
b. enabling of citizens to influence the actions of their government

Congressional Elections
- What is the incumbency advantage?
~People already know and trust the candidate
-What is redistricting?
~When the census is taken, boundary lines get re-drawn so that elected officials represent roughly the same number of people.
- How do scandals play in?
~Scandals bring bad press. Most incumbents retire or choose not to run again, but others still run and win anyway.
-What are coattails?
~A president of one party is elected, and congresspeople of that party also get elected
-What is a mid-term congressional election?
~Elections in the middle of presidential terms
-What happened in the 2002 mid-term elections?
~Republicans gained seats in both houses instead of losing seats, like what would normally happen.

Kinda of Elections
Primary Elections-
voters decide which of the candidates within a party will represent the party's ticket in the general election
+ closed primaries- where only registered party voters can cast a ballot, healthier for the party
+ open primaries- where independents and other party members can also cast a ballot
-when an open primary is held raiding, members of the other party try to influence the results of the primary, sometimes occurs
+ runoff primary- after the initial primary if one candidate does not receive a majority a second primary is held between the two with the most votes
+ nonpartisan primary- where candidates are selected without looking at party affiliation, can have two candidates of the same party

Presidential Elections
-Winner-take-all primary
-Proportional Representation Primary- A system of voting primarily used in Europe, it apportions legislative seats to the percentage of votes won by a political party. This system helps third parties win in Europe because instead of a winner take all system if for example the democratic wins 47%, the Republicans win 52%, and a third party wins 27%, according to the percentages the democrats would at least have 4 seats, the republicans would have 5 seats and the third party would have 2 seats; Thus, all the parties would get some form of representation.
-Proportional representation with bonus delegates primary
- Caucus
-Primary Versus Caucuses:
The trend of preconvention contests has shifted from caucuses to primaries. Open and closed primaries have become increasingly popular. Regional primaries have continually been proposed, which is a system where the country is divided into five or six geographical areas and all states in that region are required to hold their presidential primary elections on the same day. Primary schedules have often been altered by front-loading, where states chose an early date for primaries.
-The Party Conventions
The out-of-party usually holds the conventions first, often in late July and is followed by the party holding office in the White House in mid-August.
-Delegate Selection
Delegates are not selected to the conventions by party leaders but by primary elections and grassroots caususes. Reforms by the Democratic party have further weakened the role of party leaders. One reform is the abolition of unit rule, where the majority of a state delegation can force the minority to vote for its candidate.
-National Candidates and Issues
National candidates and their issues have a large impact on the political perceptions and loyalties of voters.
-The News Media
Television coverage has largely shaped the way in which business is handled in the convention. It is very important for candidates because of its extensive coverage of the convention.

General Elections- voters choose which candidates will actually fill elective public office
-it's a contest between candidates from opposing parties
- voters often judge based more upon: foreign policy & defense issues because they are not usually focused on in local elections

---> Initiative, Referendum, and Recall
Initiative - an election that allows citizens to propose legislation and submit it to the state electorate for popular vote.
Referendum- an election whereby the state legislature submits proposed legislation for the state's approval.
Recall- an election ("deelection") in which voters can remove an incumbent from office by popular vote.
-They provide for more direct democracy.
-Initiatives and Referenda are imperfect representations of the public because only a small, self-selected portion of the voting public chooses to participate in the referenda voting process.
-Recalls are very rare

Voter Turnout
Based on:
-Race and ethnicity
-Interest in politics
Voter Turnout Low Due to:
- Too busy
-Difficulty of registration
-Difficulty of absentee
-Number of elections
-voter attitude
-Weak political parties

Ways to combat low voter turnout
-early registration and absentee voting
- fine citizens if they don't vote (like in Australia)
-make election day a holiday
-stronger parties
-offer incentives
-vote by mail or internet (like in Oregon)
-everyone is automatically registered to vote

Incumbancy Advantage
-high visibility
-access to media
-speak frequently
-free mass mailings
-constituency services (assistance from a member of congress to voters in their district. voters see incumbent more favorably than opponent)
Pros and Cons to Voting by Mail
Pros- a) it is proven (by Oregon's voter turnout) that people are more likely to vote if it is through the mail
b) people don't have to leave work or drive to their specific voting place
Cons- a) The process of counting and recording the absentee ballots takes a long time
b) absentee ballots can change the outcome of an election

Why is Voter Turnout low?
- The US has one of the lowest voter turnout rate, with a record low of 48.8% in 1996, and a high in 2004 with 59%.
But Why??
- too busy
-Registration is difficult, including absentee voting
-number of elections
-voter attitudes
-weak political parties
-geographic mobility
-lack of faith in the government (due to scandals, wars, etc.)
-increase of negative campaigning (attack ads)
-weak voting initiatives

How can we inprove?
- easy registration/absentee voting
- make voting day a holiday!
- stronger parties

The Electoral College
-how presidents are elected
-there are representatives from each state, which are based on the number of senators and representatives each state has in Congress
-constructed to:
1. work without political parties
2. cover nominating and electing phases of the selection of president
3. produce a nonpartisan president
These representatives are called electors, and each state has exactly the same number of electors as it does Congressmen. Thus, each state has as many electors as two more than the number of their House Representatives. Washington D.C. is entitled to 3 votes.
Definition: Drawing district lines so that one party will gain the majority
How is redistricting chosen? The lines are drawn by the state legislatures.
When? Every 10 years, after the census is taken.
How can they tell where the Reps or Dems are located? By looking at their voting history in the primaries.
Rules: They can't draw the lines based on race, only party affiliation.
Political battles over redistricting occur within state legislatures responsible for creating the electoral maps, but if necessary, federal courts become involved.

Connecting Theory to Reality