Unit 3 - The US Electoral Process

Emily Bevis
Flashcards by Emily Bevis, updated more than 1 year ago
Emily Bevis
Created by Emily Bevis over 2 years ago
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- Government & Politics Flashcards on Unit 3 - The US Electoral Process, created by Emily Bevis on 04/29/2018.

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Constitutional requirements for Presidential candidate/election - Natural born US citizen (Birthers question Obama's original birth place) - at least 35 years old - Been a US resident for last 14 years - limited to two terms as President - FIXED term elections = every 4 years
Conventional requirements for Presidential candidates - Political experience = most important/expected factor - BUT not guarantee success Clinton 2016. - Major party endorsement = backed by Demo/Rep - independent candidates rarely gain large impact. - Presidential character = white, married, male, few scandals BUT Trump 2016 campaign, Clinton 1992 affair. - Money = raise money for campaign - Perot 1996, Forbes 2000 only people fund selves. - Campaign = organisation and TV skills - Phill Gramm 1996 "too ugly" to be President - Policies = substance over style? - Trump and immigration
Define Invisible Primary - Period between candidates first announcement to run and the first primary contest. - nomination chosen through process of primaries/caucuses - UK CONTRAST - Obama announce candidacy in Feb 2007 with first contest in Jan 2008 - leads to a very LONG and EXPENSIVE campaign - correlation between who wins invisible primary and official nomination. - 2016 both T + C ahead from start - 2008 neither Obama or McCain were favourites at end of the invisible primary
Importance of invisible primaries - correlation between winner and official nomination - 2008 no correlation, 2016 yes - Important period to raise funds and campaign team - Clinton $130m raised before January - creates MOMENTUM - Ensures name/face recognition for start of contests - 2007 Obama not well known = successful invisible primary - BUT does not guarantee success
Role of media and opinion polls in the invisible primaries - MEDIA = candidates want name recognition with serious news outlets and TV appearances - Trump 2016 dominated the media - POLLS = regularly reported in media in 'head to head' ranking of candidates
Role of money in invisible primary - significant time to raise money for future campaign = imp for success - 2016 = 5 Reps withdraw before primaries - Clinton's ability to raise $ scared others - Jan 2016 = $130m raised already - BUT not guarantee success as Ben Carson raise most in Rep IP ($57.9m) but won no primaries
Visible events in the invisible primary - TV debates = imp. - 2016 Trump dominated with argumentative style - Republicans = too many on field - 2011 Perry = top candidate but bad debate skills lost him momentum - Traditional events - e.g. Iowa Straw Poll for Republican candidates - Jefferson-Jackson dinner for Democrats = Obama 2008 memorable speech - State visits = vital to gain momentum - 2011 Rick Santorum visit every county in Iowa = Challenge Romney
Define October Surprise Term used to describe key event late in campaign and has impact on result. - 2016 = 11 days before election, Comey announce starting investigation into Clintons emails due to "new evidence" BUT nothing new found = waste/ruin campaign. - 2012 = Hurricane Sandy stopped Romney's momentum while Obama dominated media with his White House response.
Importance of the invisible primary in 2016 - Both Clinton and Trump considerably ahead. - Clinton = 14% ahead of Sanders - 2015 poll success = highlight amount of name recognition. - Suffered with 18-29 y/o who favoured Sanders = only 39% support C - not as energised in debates as Sanders - Face Sanders challenge in primaries - Trump = 16% ahead of Cruz - Wide spectrum = 17 Rep candidates - Largely focused on sense of frustration - Republican establishment powerless in face of Trump's momentum
Define Primary - state-based election for party candidate - shows level of support in ordinary voters - chooses no. of delegates that vote for candidate at National Party convention - Open Primary = members of any party can vote means 'crossover' voting - 2008 Republicans for Obama - Texas D/R - Closed Primary = only registered democrats vote at Demo primary - Oreogon (D) and Cali (R) - Closed/mixed primaries = allow for independent voters to vote - Ohio (D) and New Hampshire (R) - Demo proportionally allocate delegates Some Rep = 'winner takes all' - e.g. Trump won all 58 Arizona delegates
Define Caucus - state-based series of meetings - less common + low turnout - Typically geographically large areas with thin population - Sanders = benefit from caucuses 2016 - average 66% to Clintons 33% - Open = Washington (D) and Minnesota (R) - Mixed= Utah (D/R) - Closed = Nevada (D) and Hawaii (R)
Importance of early contests - Contests timetabled by party national committee - Iowa = traditionally first caucus - 2016 = Cruz ahead with 27% and Clinton scrape victory over Sanders - un-representative state BUT voted for overall winner 6/7 recent elections - New Hampshire = all winners win their primary - BUT 2016 Hillary lost to Sanders - Winners enjoy early media, money and poll boosts - 2008 Obama went from 15% behind Clinton in polls before contests to 12% ahead afterwards - 'front-loading' = March 2016 32 states already contested
Incumbent presidents during the invisible primary - results in little/no alternative coverage - some states don't even hold primaries - 2012 NY, Florida, Virginia = Demo - 2012 Obama = average 92% - only serious challenges to incumbent in 1976, 1980, 1992 - lead to hard fought primaries
Why did Clinton win the Democrat nomination? - Up against weak candidates - "Most experienced candidate in history" - 75% want candidate with experience - 519 delegates v Sanders 359 - Super-delegates = 15% of total = highly credited/experienced members - HC won 90% of super-d support - Flexibility in policies to match Sanders = min wage to $15 per hour - Still only won 16% 18-29 y/o - 7/11 Super Tuesday victories = momentum
Why did Trump win the Republican nomination? - Inflammatory comments = in spotlight - Popular amongst 'angry', conservative, blue-collar voters - Disillusionment with political establishment - 'drain the swamp' - Social media = significant campaign feature + TV fame = already large following - 6 straight contest victories = momentum - Super-Tuesday = 6/9 victories
Voter turnout at primaries - improved since reforms in 1960s = only 11% of electorate - 2016 = 29% of electorate - clear dips in in turnout with incumbent - Varies state to state - N.Hampshire = 52% Louisiana = 18% - Lowest in caucus states = Kansas = 5.5% - Higher turnout at open + competitive primaries - Early contests = undecided = higher % - Thought to attract only the 'ideological extremists' who are already sure of vote - Attract higher educated, older, and wealthy voters = 2016 N.Carolina Rep primary = 50% college degree - 75% + 45y/o
Arguments that the primary system is FLAWED - Too LONG - Too EXPENSIVE - Dominated by the MEDIA = creation of 'style over substance' - Front loading - PARTY CONFLICT = difficult to repair during final campaign - 2008 Obama/Clinton - personal attacks - Unwanted nominees = ill-informed voters make uneducated decisions - Issues with CAUCUSES = unrepresentative + extremely low % - Lack of professional input = most qualified candidate not elected - Trump
Define Front loading - Uneven distribution of funds with greater proportion raised at the beginning of the process. - Works against less popular/less well known candidates - Koch brothers = significant funders - Candidates who win primaries = typically win overall BUT 2008 exception
Arguments that system is too expensive, too long and large media domination - argument that system flawed - Length = normally 10 month long period, with extra invisible primary time - comparison to 1968 where Nixon announce running 40 days before - Expense = better use of high $, June 2016 Clinton = $275m, unfair to less well-known candidates , 'buy' the nomination ? - Media = "beauty contest", 2016 Clinton suffered through media attacks, not beneficial for most qualified candidates, TV debates, interviews, ads, personality politics
Arguments that primary system works WELL - Encourages PARTICIPATION = increase in last 5 years - 1988, 35m - 2016, 61m - BUT still only 30% of electorate - RANGE of candidates = 2016 17 Reps campaigning for wide range of polices/ideologies - BUT those without political background (2016+2012, Cain) - WEEDING OUT process = gruelling/long process so weak candidates drop out, 2012 Rick Perry = popular but less than1% of first contests - IMPACT = imp for Trump establishment without political background, typically winner reflect BUT can still loose
How can system be improved/reformed? - Improved since 1960s "smoke filled rooms" to the primary system - Greater peer/professional review = Democrats intro 'super-delegates' - 2016 favour Clinton = Sanders supporters suggest a 'rig' ? - Regional primaries = South, Midwest etc = states hold primaries on same day, only 4 different primary days - Allows candidates to focus on their campaign - Atkins 5 point plan, 2016 = remove caucuses + closed primaries
When is a VP chosen? - Until 1956 = decision left in hands of party convention - Until 1980 = VP announced at convention -1984 = Mondale announce congresswoman as VP before convention - 2016 VP's both announced 3 days before conventions
Define balanced ticket - President picks a VP with qualities they don't have - Appeal to wider section of voters - Geographical region, age, ideology, gender, religion, political experience - Biden 2008 = served 36 years in office, foreign policy expert (a weakness of Obama) due to FP senate chairman - Pence 2016 = Governor and HOR experience to balance Trump - BUT not guarantee success - Kaine 2016 = fluent in Spanish, civil rights lawyer, Virginia = swing state, a moderate 'Blue-Dog Democrat' - Also many successes with an 'unbalanced ticket' - Clinton and Gore 1992 both from south + same age
Define National Party Conventions - Nominating conventions - At end of primaries = held to announce party nomination - Bring media attention to swing states - Evening themes/speeches - 2008 final night = Obama in 85,000 seat stadium = large excitement - 2016 themes = Make America safe/work/first/one again
Formal functions of party conventions x4 1) Choosing party candidate = 2008 narrow lead after contests 51% v HC 49% but had support of 'super-delegates' BUT become a formality after primaries? 2) Brokered convention = when no absolute majority 3) Choosing VP = no longer significant 4) Deciding the party platform = form of party manifesto - difficult to achieve due to 'big tent coalitions' but clear divisions with abortion, LGBTQ, guns etc.
Informal functions of party conventions x3 1) Promoting part unity = after divisive primary contests - e.g. Sanders 2016 endorsement speech, Rep 2016 no united front as Romney and Bush refuse invitation 2) Enthuse loyal voters/volunteers 3) Connect to ordinary voters = party feeling on TV broadcast, end nomination speech, create first impressions for 'undecided' voters
What is the post convention 'bounce'? - opinion pols measure how well candidates perform at conventions - Elections 1980-2012 = average bounce of 6% to challenging party - 2016, Trump = 1%, Clinton = 4.5% - Clinton clearly won the conventions but still lost the election
Importance of conventions? - 2016 Trump well bellow normal boost BUT still won - Only half of time does the bounce successfully reflect in the result - Important event in outlining future political stars = Obama 2004 --> 2008 - millions watch on TV = start of campaign?
Define swing states - Similar to UK marginal constituencies - Some states = safe for one party - NY, Cali = Demo - Texas, Georgia, Kansas = Rep - Essential for parties to focus resources/ campaigning on target states - 2016 Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Colorado, Virginia = large impact - reason for Clintons loss in 2016 - Trump able to appeal to white, working class men = crucial - Obama 2004 ambitious victory of previously Rep states - Florida
Key moments in 2016 Election campaign Trump = loose cannon/inflammatory statements = appealed to core voters while :( party = claimed Obama founded ISIS = dominated news = publicity Clinton = insulted/alienated potential T voters = "basket of deplorables" = collapse at 9/11 event + pneumonia = sense of secretive manner - emails
Role of TV in election campaigns - NOT restrained to UK political neutrality - Late night chat shows - e.g. Saturday Night Live use political satire - TV ads used to attack opponents and publicise policies - TV debates since 1960 - 2016 Clinton seen as winner in all 3 debates BUT still lost - Influential as 84m watched 1st debate - Emergence of style over substance - Trump criticised for interrupting and shouting over Clinton - Sound bites for/against candidate in campaign and newspaper headlines - Difficult for incumbents as have to defend previous 4 year record - 2012 Romney = 72% voted winner - Trumps exaggerations = beneficial as portray him as just not another politician
Role of money in elections - Campaigns very expensive = successful candidates raise high funds - Super 'PACs' = independent committees to raise unlimited sums from corporations/individuals - 2016 Priorities USA Action = $192m for HC - 'expenditure only' as forbidden from making direct federal contributions - Matching funds = money from federal gov. to match what already raised + upto $250 extra with each donation - 2008 Obama not accept and instead raise more independently through online small donors = advantage over McCain - By 2016 MF only $1m raised - BUT Trump largely benefit from free media coverage due to campaign controversy
What is the Electoral college? - 50 states wide, indirect election of President - 538 total ECV's = 270 to win Pres election - All but Nebraska and Maine use 'winner-takes-all' system to distribute ECV's - Others use 'Congressional District Method' = each district gets an ECV - BUT lead to 269-269 draw = HOR pick President (last used 1824)
Strengths of EC system (x2) 1) Protects rights of SMALLER states - Cali, NY, Texas has large population and more ECV's - 1788, Virginia = 12 ECVs = BIGGEST - Now, Cali has 18x more than smallest state 2) Promotes a two-horse race = winner typically wins 50% of the vote - 2/3rds elections since 1864
Weaknesses of EC system (x6) 1) Over-represents smaller states 2) Distorts the result = differing victory margin - 1996 Clinton 49% popular vote but 70% of Electoral college 3) Unfair to third parties 4) Rouge electors = 'faithless electors' - 2016 7 rouge electors 5) President and VP from different parties = no political parties with Founding Fathers 6) Loose popular vote but still win = 2000 and 2016 (48.2% Clinton v 46% Trump)
How is the EC over-representative of smaller states and unfair to third parties? - Cali has 1 ECV for every 713,000 people - BUT Wyoming has 1 ECV for every 195,000 - No third party won ECV since Wallace in 1968 with 13.5% of vote - concentrated in South - 1992 = Ross Perot 18.9% of vote but no ECV - 2000 = Nader 3m votes but no ECV
Electoral College reform - difficult to intro as need constitutional amendment and 'super majority' 1) Direct Election = elect by direct popular vote = popular reform - 72% :) in 2007 2) Proportional System = proportionally by state popular vote but not produce clear majority 3) Congressional District system = 2 ECV's to state wide winner and 1 to each district winner. - 2012, Romney would have defeated Obama due to more smaller margin wins
Define Propositions - form of DRIECT DEMOCRACY - only takes place at state-level (24/50) - Process which allows citizens to directly intro state law. - Bypass legislative process and scrutiny - Direct = qualifies onto the ballot - Indirect = submitted to state legislature before ballot - between 1990-2004 = 48% success rate - Passed with simple majority on ballot - Encourage greater participation
Examples of propositions - Arguably only deal with controversial issues which would never be passed in regular legislative process - 2016 = 57% yes to marijuana legalisation in Cali and 54% yes in Nevada - 1994 = undocumented people in Cali were no eligible for social services - 2018 Florida = increase min wage to $10 an hour and make abortion murder crime - Short term gain due to no scrutiny ? - Undermine US federal democracy
Define Referendums - DIRECT DEMOCRACY - enables voters to veto bill passed by state - similar to propositions but intro by state legislatures - Typically changes to constitution/tax system - 24 states = "popular referendum" = Alaska, Colorado = voters have 90 days to demand referendum on unpopular state law
Examples of US referendums - 2016, Colorado = regulation forcing convicted criminals to work unpaid voted to be kept in constitution - 2012, Idaho = veto education reforms BUT failed - 2012, Cali = veto redistricting plan
Define recall elections - DIRECT DEMOCRACY - voter ability to remove elected official from office before term expiration - Direct impeachment - 18/50 states = rarely use - increase elected accountability - BUT 'buyers regret' and officials discouraged from making right but unpopular decisions
Examples of recall elections - 2018, Mayor Schlaak in Colorado replaced through recall - 2012, Gov of Wisconsin = Scott Walker (R) due to limited TU rights and opposing state employee pension - 2010, Iowa = 3 court justices for supporting same sex marriage - 2005, New Jersey = Major Marko considered 'out of touch' with voters
Advantages of direct democracy (x4) 1) Increase voter turn-out if controversial propositions - e.g. 2004 Ohio ban gay marriage 2) Propositions increase interest and participation in other areas of politics - PGs 3) Propositions and recalls increase state legislatures accountability and responsiveness 4) Allows voters to enact controversial BUT popular reforms which may have been otherwise rejected - e.g. marijuna, term limits, tax
Disadvantages of direct democracy (x4) 1) Lack of flexibility = once drafted no amendments until put into place 2) No debate or scrutiny like normal bill = removal of loopholes and weaknesses 3) Vulnerable to manipulation like media ads and expensive campaigns 4) Recall elections/propositions = popular but unnecessary bills
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