Chapter 7: The Electoral Process
Section 1: The Nominating Process
Nomination is a critical step in the election process.
• Those who make nominations narrow the choices that voters have in an election.
Various Nominating Methods:
• Oldest form of the nominating process.
• A person who wants to run for office simply announces that fact.
• Sometimes used by someone who failed to win a regular party nomination or by someone unhappy with the party’s choice.
• Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected into office through this method.
• A group of like-minded people who meet to select the candidates they will support in an upcoming election.
• Often criticized for their closed, unrepresentative character.
• Elected delegates select their party’s nominees.
• The national convention is where the party selects its presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
• Party bosses could manipulate the process by playing with the selection of delegates to influence the outcome.
4. Direct Primary:
• Held within a party to pick that party’s candidates for the general election.
• Regulated by states.
• State usually sets the dates and also conducts the primaries.
• The State also provides polling places and election officials, registration lists and ballots, and monitors the process.
4A Closed Primary:
• A party’s nominating election in which only declared party members can vote.
4B Open Primary:
• Any qualified voter can cast a ballot.
• A voter must make a choice of party in order to vote in the primary either publicly or in private.
• 2000, three States used a different version of the open primary—the blanket primary, sometimes called the “wide-open primary” where the voters could participate however they chose.
• Eligible voters sign petition in support of a candidate.
• Mostly done at the local level
• The higher the office, the more signatures needed.
Chapter 7: The Electoral Process
Section 3: Money and Elections
1. List the election related expenses that are paid by the campaign funds.
• Radio and television time, professional campaign managers and consultants, newspaper advertisements, pamphlets, buttons, posters and bumper stickers, office rent, polls, data processing, mass mailings, Web sites, travel—these and a host of other items make up the huge sums spent in campaigns.
• Television ads are far and away the largest item in most campaign budgets today, even at the local level.
2. Explain the different methods through which campaign funds are acquired.
• Small contributors—those who give $5 or $10 or so, and only occasionally.
• Wealthy individuals and families—the “fat cats,” who can make large donations and find it in their best interest to make them.
• Candidates—both incumbents and challengers, their families, and, importantly, people who hold and want to keep appointive public offices.
• Various nonparty groups—especially political action committees (PACs). Political action committees are the political arms of special-interest and other organizations with a stake in electoral politics.
• Temporary organizations—groups formed for the immediate purposes of a campaign, including fund-raising.
• Then, too, parties and their candidates often hold fund-raisers of various sorts. The most common are $100-, $500-, and $1,000-a-plate luncheons, dinners, picnics, receptions, and similar gatherings.
• Direct mail requests, telethons, and Internet solicitations are also among the oft-used tools of those who raise campaign money.
• Public funds—subsidies from the federal and some State treasuries—are now another prime source of campaign money. A subsidy is a grant of money, usually from a government.
3. Why do people make campaign donations?
• Most want something in return. They want access to government, and hope to get it by helping their “friends” win elections.
• Some big donors want appointments to public office, and others want to keep the ones they have.
• Others want certain laws passed, changed, or repealed, or certain administrative actions taken.
4. What is the job of the Federal Election Commission? What are the four areas it must watch in regards to campaign finance?
• It administers all federal law dealing with campaign finance.
• They (1) require the timely disclosure of campaign finance data, (2) place limits on campaign contributions, (3) place limits on campaign expenditures, and (4) provide public funding for several parts of the presidential election process.
5. What are the current disclosure requirements for federal campaigns?
• No individual or group can make a contribution in the name of another.
• Cash gifts of more than $100 are prohibited. So are contributions from any foreign source.
• All contributions to a candidate for federal office must be made through a single campaign committee. Only that committee can spend that candidate’s campaign money.
• Any contribution or loan of more than $200 must be identified by source and by date.
• Any spending over $200 must also be identified by the name of the person or firm to whom payment was made, by date, and by purpose.
• Any contribution of more than $5,000 must be reported to the FEC no later than 48 hours after it is received. So, too, must any sum of $1,000 or more that is received in the last 20 days of a campaign.
6. What are current limits placed on campaign contributions?
• Today, no person can give more than $2,100 to any federal candidate in a primary election, and no more than $2,100 to any federal candidate’s general election campaign.
• No person can give more than $5,000 in any year to a political action committee, or $26,700 to a national party committee.
• The total of any person’s contributions to federal candidates and committees now must be limited to no more than $101,400 in an election cycle.
7. What are PACs? What are their campaign contribution limits?
• PAC = Political Action Committee. PACs are the political arms of special-interest groups—business, labor, professional, cause, and other organizations that try to influence government policies.
• No PAC can give more than $5,000 to any one federal candidate in an election, or $10,000 per election cycle (primary and general election).
• However, there is no overall limit on PAC giving to candidates. Each PAC can give up to $5,000 per election to each of as many candidates as it chooses. A PAC may also contribute up to $15,000 a year to a political party.
8. How do soft money and hard money differ?
• Hard money is raised and spent to elect candidates for Congress and the White House.
• Soft money is given to party organizations for such “party-building activities” as candidate recruitment, voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, and similar efforts.
9. How do political groups get around the provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (the BCRA) of 2002?
• BCRA does not say that other political groups cannot raise and spend those dollars. Almost immediately, a number of independent groups—groups with no formal ties to any party—emerged to do just that.
• It is basically a way to skirt the ban on soft money. Some $200 million poured through that loophole in 2004.
Chapter 8: Mass Media and Public Opinion
Section 3: Mass Media
How do you get your news?
A medium is a means of communication; it transmits some kind of information. Media is the plural of medium.
Four major mass media in American politics
There is at least one television set in 98 percent of the nation’s 110 c million households.
1,700 television stations in this country include more than 1,400 commercial outlets and over 300 public broadcasters.
ABC, CBS, and NBC furnish about 90 percent of the programming for some 700 local stations which accounts for about 45 percent of all television viewing time today.
The 1st Amendment protected the newspapers with its guarantee of the freedom of the press.
Today, more than 10,000 newspapers are published in the United States. About 45 percent of the nation’s adult population read a newspaper every day, and they spend, on average, a half hour doing so.
The number of daily newspapers has been declining for decades due to the development of the
Most newspapers cover stories in greater depth than television does, and many try to present various points of view in their editorial sections.
Nearly a quarter of the population stated that they “regularly” learn something about the presidential campaigns from the Internet, up from 13 percent in 2004.
The Internet is still trailing TV news and daily newspapers, but is now beating morning TV shows and radio.
Many people thought that television would bring the end of radio as a major medium.
Radio has survived because it is so conveniently available.
The average person hears 20 hours of radio each week and there are more than 13,000 stations on the AM and FM dials.
Over recent years, talk radio has become an important source of political comment. The opinions and analyses offered a number of talk show hosts can be found on hundreds of stations across the country.
Talks shows which focus on political issues that invite callers for discussions have the most influence in politics.
For decades before radio and television, magazines constituted the only national medium.
Three news magazines, Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report have a combined circulation of nearly 10 million copies a week.
1. What power do the media have over public agenda?
The media have the power to focus the public’s attention on a particular issue. They do so by emphasizing some things and ignoring or downplaying others. For example, they feature certain items on the front page or at the top of the newscast and bury others. It is not correct to say that the media tell the people what to think; but it is clear that they tell the people what to think about. Top political figures in and out of government pay close and continuing attention to these sources.
2. How do candidates manipulate media coverage to their advantage?
They plan campaigns that emphasize maximum television exposure with considerations as timing and location at the expense of such substantive matters as the issues involved in an election or a candidate’s qualifications for public office. Good campaign managers also know that most television news programs are built out of stories that (1) take no more than a minute or two of air time, and (2) show people doing something interesting or exciting. Newscasts seldom feature “talking heads,” speakers who drone on and on about some complex issue. Instead, newscasts featuring candidates are usually short, sharply focused sound bites—snappy reports that can be aired in 30 or 45 seconds or so. Staged and carefully orchestrated visits to places like historic sites, factory gates, and toxic-waste dumps.
3. What factors are limiting the influence of the media on the public?
Few people follow international, national, or even local political events very closely. Many studies of voting behavior show that in the typical election, only about 10 percent of those who can vote and only about 15 percent of those who do vote are well informed on the many candidates and issues under consideration in that election. In short, only a small part of the public actually takes in and understands much of what the media have to say about public affairs.
Moreover, most people who do pay some attention to politics are likely to be selective about it. That is, they most often watch, listen to, and read those sources that generally agree with their own viewpoints.
Advertisers who pay the high costs of television air time want to reach the largest possible audiences.
Because most people are more interested in being entertained than in being informed about public issues, few public-affairs programs air in prime time.
Like voting and other forms of political participation, being an informed citizen requires some effort.