American Government – Nominations, Elections, and Campaigns – short essays
These are meant to be 3 short essays. I do not need a cover page, or references. Only do the essays. I have numbered each one. It’s important to make sure you cover each question to each essay.
1. List the stages and discuss the nomination process for presidential candidates: (number them in essay form)
2. What is the electoral college, why was it created, and how does it work? (You may wish to review The Challenge of Democracy) What criticisms of the electoral college system have been leveled by reformers?
3. Do you agree or disagree with this statement: “Presidential elections are no longer contests between candidates; they are battles among media teams.” Explain the reasons for your position.
The text book I’m working with is The Challenge of Democracy. Below is the internet link. https://books.google.com/books?id=_WlzlY9dv74C&pg=PA18&lpg=PA18&dq=What+has+been+the+government’s+oldest+objective?&source=bl&ots=nxtEJi0kQO&sig=3jgygNrqBdMEuI1BLa9K3dbVGGA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAGoVChMIs4–566ryAIVARseCh0f1gyh#v=onepage&q=What%20has%20been%20the%20government’s%20oldest%20objective%3F&f=false
NOMINATIONS, ELECTIONS, AND CAMPAIGNS
I have worked on a number of political campaigns in local and national elections, including the 1992 Clinton-Gore presidential campaign, and a Washington, D.C., city council race. It takes a lot of work and support to get someone elected. In addition to the regular campaign staffers, outside consultants are hired, such as polling firms, public relations firms, political advisers, and volunteers.
A lot of the staffers working on national and local campaigns may have full-time day jobs and work on the campaigns in the evenings, or take leave from their regular jobs to work full time on the campaign. Why do people work for campaigns if it is just temporary employment? For a small number of people, it is because they truly believe in the candidate, but for the majority, it is in hopes that if the candidate wins they can get a job working for this elected politician, thereby assisting in shaping policy and affecting political outcomes. When Clinton-Gore won the presidential/vice presidential campaign of 1992, I had numerous friends who became White House employees. Depending on what race you work or volunteer for, if the candidate wins, the working opportunities presented to you can be extraordinary—you could end up working for a senator, mayor, governor, or local city government. These opportunities wouldn’t necessarily be presented to you had you not worked on the campaign, met people, and proven your skills and dedication.
Be aware of the work of interest groups in getting members elected. I have worked for at least two interest groups and polling companies. They have part-time evening staffers to make calls to districts or states and conduct telephone interviews to find out the issues people care about in those areas. Politicians base their political platforms on those issues. Interest groups also conduct telephone calls to local districts to persuade their members to vote for a particular candidate or even to protest an opposing candidate’s rally. They also expand that “grassroots effort” to calling the general public, encouraging them to remember to vote, while presenting the advantages of voting for a particular candidate.
• Differentiate among the various types of primaries and tell what impact, if any, they have on the role of political parties.
• Outline ways in which Congress has regulated campaign finance.
• Describe a typical campaign strategy that might be used by professional campaign managers to secure a general election victory for their candidate.
• Explain how the president is indirectly elected through the electoral college, and note the advantages and disadvantages of that system.
• Compare the effects of key long-term and short-term forces on voting choice.
• Decide whether the American party system is more pluralist or more majoritarian in its operation.
THEMES AND HIGHLIGHTS:
An election campaign is an organized effort to persuade voters to choose one candidate over others competing for the same office. Increasingly, election campaigns have evolved from being party-centered to being candidate-centered.
Today, candidates campaign for nomination as well as for election. In the United States, most aspiring candidates for major office are nominated through aprimary election. Such elections may be classified as closed, open, jungle, or blanket, depending on the severity of requirements for determining party affiliation. In both parties, only about half of the regular party voters bother to vote in any given primary (though this varies greatly by state and contest). The important thing to remember is that our parties choose their candidates through elections. This practice originated in the U.S. and remains peculiar to this country, resulting in the decentralization of power in the parties.
To nominate a presidential candidate, parties employ a complex mix of presidential primaries, local party caucuses, and party conventions. A presidential primary is a special primary used to select delegates to attend the party’s national nominating convention. The local caucus method of delegate selection is a more complex series of meetings used in nine states and all four territories (a few others combine caucuses with primaries).
The primary-centered nomination process has several consequences. Because of the complex mix of caucus and primary methods used to select delegates, timing and luck can affect who wins, and even an outside chance of success can attract many candidates if there is no incumbent president running for re-election. Candidates favored by most party identifiers usually win their party’s nomination. Candidates who win the nomination do so largely on their own and owe little or nothing to the national party organization.
All seats in the House of Representatives, one-third of the seats in the Senate, and numerous state and local offices are filled in a general election held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years.
Voters choose a president indirectly through the electoral college, which is composed of electors pledged to one of the candidates. Each state is accorded one electoral vote for each of its senators and representatives. Every decade, the number of electors a state has may change as a result of congressional reapportionment done on the basis of the census.
In all the presidential elections from 1888 to 2000, the way the college operates has magnified the presidential victory margin. The 2000 election highlighted the fact that a candidate winning the popular vote may still lose the presidency.
Every four years, presidential and congressional elections are held on the same ticket. Congressional elections are also held in other even-numbered years. A voter is said to vote a straight ticket when he or she chooses only one party’s candidates for all offices. A voter who switches parties when choosing candidates for different offices is said to vote a split ticket. In recent years, elections have resulted in divided government, in which one party controls the presidency and the other party controls the Congress.
Election campaigns may be studied by analyzing the political context, the available financial resources, and the strategies and tactics that underlie the dissemination of information about the candidate.
An incumbent, the current officeholder, usually enjoys an advantage over a challenger, who seeks to replace him or her. (An open election lacks an incumbent.) Significant political issues—such as economic recession, personal scandals, and war—are also important to a campaign, and can even negate other strong positive factors.
Election campaigns have become very expensive, and ample financing is usually critical to success. Campaign financing for federal elections tends to be heavily regulated through the Federal Election Commission. Limits have been imposed on amounts that individuals and groups can contribute to federal campaigns. Public funding is available for presidential campaigns, provided the candidates limit their expenditures to the public funds. Public funding of presidential candidates has limited election costs, helped equalize the amounts spent by the nominees, and increased the personalization of campaigns. It has also forced candidates to spend a great deal of time seeking relatively small contributions.
Public funds are given to the presidential candidate rather than to the party. Access to such funds has generally further isolated the presidential campaign from congressional campaigns. Campaign spending limits are partially avoided by the use of soft money, funds that are spent for the entire party ticket for such things as party mailings, voter registration, and get-out-the-vote campaigns. Soft money enhances the role of both the national and state parties in presidential campaigns.
Using information obtained from pollsters or political consultants, professional campaign managers develop a strategy that mixes party, issues, and the candidate’s “image.” Campaign messages are disseminated to voters via the media through news coverage, candidate appearances on popular television programs, home pages on the World Wide Web, and advertising.
The choices individual voters make can be analyzed as products of both long-term forces, which operate over a series of elections, and short-term forces, which are associated with particular elections. Party identification is the most important long-term factor in voting choice. More than half the electorate decides how to vote before the party conventions. Typically, the winning candidate for president gains the votes of nearly all of those who identify with his party, takes a sizable share of his opponents’ identifiers, and wins most of the independents.
Among short-term forces, candidate attributes are especially important when voters lack information about a candidate’s past behavior and policy stands. Some voters fall back on their firsthand knowledge of religion, gender, and race in making political judgments. Voter perceptions of candidates’ personal characteristics, such as trustworthiness, leadership, or caring, are important.
Most studies of presidential elections show that when people cast their ballots, the issues are less important than either party identification or the candidate’s image.
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