POLI 360 Lecture 18: POLI 360 - Lecture 18

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POLI - Political Science
POLI 360

POLI 360 – Lecture18  Parties in the Executive Branch o One of the president’s many duties is to be the party leader. o Modern presidents also take responsibility for party fundraising. o Parties are very polarized now, but the citizens they represent are less polarized. The citizens, however, are more sorted now; liberals are more likely to identify as Democrats and conservatives are more likely to identify as Republicans. o Even unpopular presidents are still popular with their bases, and therefore can still raise lots of money for their respective parties. o Another one of the president’s duties is to choose the chair of his/her party’s national committee. 1. Fun fact: Don Fowler, a faculty member of the USC Political Science Department, was the Democratic National Committee’s chair from 1995- 1996! 2. Debbie Schultz, the current chair of the Democratic National Committee, is very controversial because she appears to support Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. Additionally, she has pledged to not campaign against her Republican friends in Florida. o Nowadays, the president also creats their respective party’s foreign and domestic policies. For example, the 111 Congress supported President Obama’s Medicare overhaul in order to support his presidency, despite the fact that many Democrats privately did not support the package. o On Election Day, presidents influence voting for their respective parties on the rest of the ballot because of the position’s conspicuousness. Popular presidential candidates can increase votes for his/her party, while unpopular presidents can lessen votes for his/her party. 3. Coattail Effect: When candidates for lower positions are voted into office on the coattails of the president (on the president’s popularity). This effect has lessened in recent years, but it still exists. 4. Some candidates that the president sweeps into office are in competitive districts or districts that are usually favored by the opposing party. 5. Additionally, some of these candidates are not strong campaigners. o Presidential popularity also shapes congressional votes during midterm elections. o The president usually loses congressional seats in the midterm election, but the extent of that loss depends on the president’s popularity at the time. o The president’s party usually loses seats in the midterm elections because of the theory of surge and decline: the idea that losing seats in the midterm election reflects different agents of change in the midterm and presidential election years. 6. For example, a popular president is not on the ballot during midterm election years. o As a result, the marginal candidates in marginal districts lose their seats in the midterm election without the president’s popularity to support them. o It is currently unclear if Obama’s coalition of voters is transferable to other candidate
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