State Political Parties
3 Different Dimensions in defining a Political Party
1. Party in the Govt.- Elected Officials that are affiliated with one party
2. Party in the Electorate- people who vote and typically represent one party in an election
3. Party as Organization- not there to complicate things, but to remind people.
The Responsible Party Model (An Ideal-how should a party function?)
1. Parties should present clear and coherent policy choices and platforms to voters
2. Voters should choose candidates according to what the parties present
3. Parties should recruit candidates that agree with party positions
4. Parties should organize and direct candidates' campaigns.
5. The winning party (candidate) should carry out the party platform once in office
Political parties/voters have not carried out this model in the last half-century (maybe ever)
Factors that have weakened party control over electoral politics
1. Candidate-centered politics/greater candidate reliance on mass media
2. Decline of Party Identification
-voters increasingly declaring to be independents
-rise of split-ticket voting (Repub. for Pres, Democrat for Congressman, etc.)
(-Straight-ticket voting: vote only one party on a ballot for all positions/offices)
3. Increased reliance on primary elections (people don't vote for someone based on their
platforms, but for whoever wins the primary). Up-side is that more people get involved/vote.
People end up winning because they run a better campaign.
4. Less patronage, greater use of the merit system.
-Politicians reward supporters with jobs
-Now, people gets jobs on merit, so parties lost a key tool in keeping people loyal
5. Interest groups and PACs - alternate sources of financial support so candidates don't have to
rely on one.
Big flaws in the Responsible Party Model
1. Parties do not present clear, distinct, policy choices. They present moderate policies to gain the
majority of votes, which come from people in the middle.
2. Most voters do not think in terms of party platforms and do not vote on issues.
3. Parties cannot discipline their members. (People defect from party platform) Party Competition in the States
The effects of party competition on public policy:
-Parties will have little impact on public policy when there is a unimodal distribution of voters.
-Parties will have a greater impact on public policy when there is a bimodal dist. of voters.
Unimodal: Most voters are near the middle. Both parties will not offer extreme options b/c they don't want to
alienate the middle
Bimodal: Big group of voters on the moderate sides of one party, not the middle. So, for example, a
Republican candidate has to get support from moderate Republicans AND the middle. There is greater
distance between the two party platforms.
What role do party organizations play in the states?
-There is no such thing as one national Democratic or Republican Party
-Political platforms are very decentralized (county and local and etc.)
Functions of State Party Organizations
-Structuring Elections (narrowing the field of choices)
-Candidate Recruitment (particularly for state and local office)
-An uncontested race is one where only one party has a candidate in the race (sign of how
uncompetitive a district is.)
- would be a failure of candidate recruitment
-A competitive district is one where either party could win
-Voter Registration - to increase # of registered voters
-Register the people who will vote for YOUR party
- They don't just register as many people as possible
-Target certain communities
-Voter Mobilization - actually getting people to vote when they're already registered (calls, mail..)
-Campaign Resources - help with getting votes, may not be financial Texas Party System
Texas as a One-Party Democratic State - Dominance from 1874-1960s
- From the end of Reconstruction in 1874 until the 1960s, Texas was a one party Democratic state
-This loyalty to the Democratic Party was due to several factors (first 3 ~ Civil War period)
1. Republican Party founded in 1850, wanting to get rid of slavery, which TX opposed
2. Head of Civil War, Lincoln, was a Republican (LEADERSHIP)
3. Reconstruction "abuse"- Constitution forced onto TX, along with a Repub. Congress and Pres.
-This was to transform TX against its will AND to punish TX for fighting
Indications of Democratic Party Dominance
- A lot of races went uncontested
- 1928-1952 - Period when Democratic Party was strongest in TX
-During this period, not a single Republican was elected to state legislature
- 1874-1961 - no Republican won a state-wide office in TX (US Sen., governor, RR Comm., etc.)
Third Party Challenges
-Democratic Party loyalty from rejection of Republican Party (Civil War)
-2 main challenges to Dem. Party from third parties
- Greenback Party of the 1870s
-farmers, some opposition to Democratic Party, but not much
-challenged Dem. more than Repub.
-The Populist Party of the 1890s (once got 44% of the vote in 18??)
-HUGE challenge- got broad coalition of support from farmers, working class of inner
-had policies that would benefit the masses
-How did it go away so quickly?/Reactions of Democrats to challenge of the Populist
1. Democrats introduced poll tax in 1902 (Populists made up of mostly poor)
2. Key part of Populists were poor whites and minorities/blacks
-To divide the Populists, racism was introduced
-And so, landowners, wealthy businessmen, and elites (Dems.) managed to hold onto party control.
Reinforcing Democratic Party Loyalty
-Hoover was Republican, so Repubs took blame for Depression.
-FDR, a Dem., for 4 yrs. he helped pull country through, increasing support for Dem. Party.
-This was the period where Democratic support was strongest.
-Democrats maintaining selves as Conservative Party
-helped by conservative Republicans in primaries, who would choose most conservative
Democratic candidate who would most likely beat Republican in election.
- Repub. cross-over voting
-General negative view of Repubs./jokes about them. As late as 1950s, Repubs. referred to as Party of the
North, an outside party (Civil War), and Party of the Great Depression. Implications of One-Party Dominance
-Because of the one-party system in TX, politics revolved almost exclusively around personality and
-All the conflict just takes place WITHIN the dominant, Dem. Party.
-Just because one party (Repub) goes away, the conflict doesn't go away
Indications of Party Realignment in TX
-1952 and 1956 presidential vote - earliest signs that things were going to change
-D. Eisenhower - Repub. candidate wins in TX
-Only happened one other time since Reconstruction, when Hoover won in 1928 due to anti-Catholic
mindset against Dem. candidate.
-Shivers, TX governor (Dem), would endorse Eisenhower
-Said to start voting Repub. at NATIONAL level, not STATE
-the people who would do that were known as "Shivercrats"
-1961- current senator of TX is LBJ - became VP, so John Tower is elected to US Senate
-first state-wide office held by Republican since end of Reconstruction
-went on to win reelection in 1970s - KEY ELECTION
-Bill Clements elected governor in 1978 - first Repub. TX governor in 100+ years
-indication of party realignment
-Repub. in state-wide office
-Now, people who wanted to work in government didn't have to be Dem., b/c now a Repub.
could appoint offices/positions
-Phillip Graham - Dem. in US House of Reps, but in 1983, he resigns his house seat, becomes
Repub, runs for HOR as Repub, and wins his house seat back as a Repub. Gave the voters chance to
reelect him as Repub, and they did.
-Repub. governor, GW Bush, had huge landslide.
-More House seats/state-wide offices to Repubs.
-2002 - Shift - Repubs. have captured both the state House and state Senate (Just about all state-wide
offices held by Repubs.)
-Last 10 years - Repub. Party Dominance/strong Repub. Party state
Causes of Party Realignment in TX
Realignment: shift political support from one party to another (Dem. to Repub.)
-Growing liberalism of the Dem. Party - 1950s/60s - more liberal, civil rights, not popular among
-Northerners migrating into TX - brought with them their party loyalty
-younger Texans voted Repub, older voted Dem.
-Reagan and 1980s - pulled support from traditional cultures and working class. Helped build support for
-Regional and perhaps true for all southern states
-For the most part, all these characteristics of party shift from Dem. to Repub. was in all southern states in
last half of century. Party Dealignment
-Is a shift from support for political parties to no political party support
-1/3 consider themselves to be independent - rise in independents
-Most important trend nationally
-Issue Orientation Comparisons
-Laissez-faire - limit govt. regulation in economy
-Strong national defense
-Limiting govt. regulation
-Anti-union - state "right-to-work" laws brought by Repubs.
-rights to work without being in a union
-Smaller role in civil rights
-traditional family values - prayer in public schools (banned in 1960s, want it back)
-more activist govt. - some elements need govt. (protection of environment)
-social programs (help poor, health care)
-support for unions - in return, union support Democrats
-larger role for govt. in civil rights - this alienated TX from being Dem.
-maintaining separation of church and state Elections/Campaigns
-Primary Elections/Primary Campaigns - Reducing the Importance of Parties
-These help the parties choose which candidate represents their party in national election
-State conventions used to decide which candidates represented the party, which allowed leadership/activists
to control party label. They made sure candidates supported party platform.
-Reasons Behind the Adoption of the Party Primary
-Corruption - people were making deals to get support
-More democratic, represents more people to participate, so replaced state convention
-Main advantage of primary - is a proving/testing grounds for candidates and how they run their campaign.
You want a candidate who proves they'll be capable of winning the national election.
Criticisms of the Primary Method
-weakening of what political parties mean, weakening of parties in general
-someone wins just because of how they campaign and that they won the primary, not necessarily because
they represented the party platform
-questions about reliance on money in campaigns (primary AND national) - adds to expenses, increases
reliance on PACs and other sources of money
-Primaries could add to decreased voter turnout
-extends campaign process to months, people get less excited about the candidates.
-Voters drop out because of length of process
-Voter turnout lower at primaries than in general election
-the most liberal/conservative/extreme voters vote here, so the people that win the primaries are
more extreme, which is not favored at the national level
Types of Primaries
-Two Most Used:
-Closed Primaries: have to register as member of party before day of the election
-Open Primaries: show up at polls with ID, get ballot, you select which primary you're voting in
while in the booth (D or R). No record of it; no one else will know. Vote in either D or R primary.
You can vote for the other party's weakest candidate so they lose the national election.
-Leaders of parties prefer closed primaries, but state legislatures decide when and what type
-Blanket Primaries: allows voter to choose at booth what primary they vote in, and allows them to vote for
both primaries. These do not exist anymore. They were in Washington, Alaska, California, then declared
unconstitutional. Why? Because you can't vote for your party AND weakest of other..
-Political parties have right to control minimum requirement of party membership
-Non-partisan Primary: looks like a blanket party (Louisiana)
-Can choose Republican for governor and Democrat for lieut. governor.
-In this primary, unlike blanket, two top candidates for one office position, and those two are then
voted on again.
-Semi-open Primary: voters have to request a particular ballot, still not having to register in that party.
Simply declaring it and the state has a record of it.
-Semi-closed Primary: Have to register as voter of that party, but you can do it on the day of the election.
-Texas uses semi-open primary
-Runoff Primaries: mostly used in southern states
-If you don't have this in your state, candidate who gets more than others gets votes and position
-In these, any candidate that doesn't get 50+% majority, has to go up against the 2nd highest % in
another election -If you voted in semi-open primary, chose to vote in Republican primary, you CAN'T vote in other party's
(Dem.) Runoff Party
-If you didn't vote in original primary at all, you can vote in either party's runoff primary
-Leaders of parties want closed primaries PR Firms, the Mass Media, and Campaigns
Goals of PR Firms and personal campaigns
1. Develop name recognition - If someone doesn't recognize your name, they won't vote for you. Or
if they do, they will vote only based on that.
2. Develop media interest (important for incumbent) - free advertising. If you went to baseball game
or hospital opening
3. Develop campaign themes
Typical Themes of Campaigns
- "Sainthood" - try to portray candidate with his family, little league coach, he is just a really great guy.
Positive view of the candidate.
-"Good-ol'-boy" - trying to make candidate look like one of us - we identify ourselves with them.
Testimonies from common folk - "This candidate helped me..." Identify with common folk. Or you
see the candidate themselves (Rick Perry Ag. Commissioner campaign) trying to be common guy.
-"NOOTS" - No One is Opposed To This - Candidate takes a "courageous" stand on something no one is
really opposed to. (Better education, against crime, etc.) Presenting selves as courageous without
-"Feel Good Spots" - you identify candidate with brighter better future, only if you vote for them. Brighter
tomorrow. 1984 Reagan campaign (Good Morning in America). Suns coming up, things going well,
don't want to reverse it by voting for someone else.
-"Basher Spots" - Tearing down other opponent to build up campaign. Very negative. People complain about
them, but they do work by making you not vote at all. Drives down voter turnout. You don't like one
candidate, but he said something bad about the one you DO like - not enough to vote for the one you
don't like anyway. So no vote.
Money in Elections
-The need (obvious for any level/size of campaign) (more $ needed for higher level campaigns)
-PACs (source of much money) (Most states place limits - TX none)
-Limits on contributions
-TX Campaign Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1973
-no limit for PACs, but you DO have to disclose who's giving you how much $, where you're getting
it from. Public disclosure of where money is.
-Buckley v. Valeo (1976)
-Can't place limit on how much candidate uses of OWN MONEY
-Can't limit how they use their money State Legislatures
Functions of State Legislatures/Legislators
3 Core Functions (do not underestimate importance of state legislature responsibilities)
1. Policy Making - make laws and amendments to the laws
-pass budget / taxes
-state level has much complexity and diversity of legislature passed
-covers much of what national legislature covers aside from foreign affairs
2. Representation - 3 Styles of Representing Constituents:
a) Policy Representation
-Two main types (first two)
i) Delegate: You elect legislator, so he's supposed to defer to the will/wishes of the
people who put him in office when it comes to policy-making.
ii) Trustee: Uses his own judgment for policies. Doesn't mean he's a bad legislator,
you voted for him/placed your trust in him; he'll do what is best in his mind.
iii) Politico: Sometimes acts like delegate, sometimes as a trustee.
-Legislator will act as a delegate on controversial issues (gun control) b/c voters are
passionate about it and he must keep their support. On day-to-day, complex issues, will
behave like a trustee.
-Representing the people on policy issues is complex. Why?
i) The public does not have one unified voice
ii) Hard to figure out what public wants because public is apathetic.
iii) How to decide who to listen to. The majority? The people most affected by the
new policy? Not always one or the other.
- helping constituents deal with the govt/representing constituents in a direct way
-Someone needs help, so legislator will usually help, call someone, etc. They will normally
help b/c he wants to help you AND wants you to remember he did come election time.
c) Pork-Barrel Politics
-"Bringing home the pork" to own districts/getting specific material benefits for one's district
-Goal here is to create/improve jobs or improve economic conditions. New highway plans >
need people to build it > job creation
-Very important tool for a politician who wants to be reelected.
-Free media advertising
3. Oversight- concern with how laws are being implemented, simply making laws is not enough.
-monitoring the bureaucracy - they might not carry out policy the way leg. intended
-a look at how power is being used Characteristics of State Legislators
Dominant background characteristics of state legislators
-lawyer, businessman, business owner
-lawyers have background in the law and are able to work as lawyer when not in session
-businessmen have faced regulation and want to shape policy
-Anglo/white mostly, but significant increase in minority representation in legislature
-Women are ~20% of legislative seats in nation (obviously not based on % of popl.)
-When women run, they actually have an equal chance of winning
-It is just that so few women actually even run for office at all
-Wealth and Social Status
-Most have upper-class background
-Their income is higher than the average income of the state
-Most legislators increase income while serving in state legislature
-Not b/c well-paid, they just attract more business in their old occupation from name-recognition and
being able to now pick up more cases/business
The Incumbency Advantage (about 90% of people who run for reelection are reelected)
3 major factors contributing to this:
-Name recognition, free media advertising from already being in office/making new policy.
-Get media interest just from doing job. Might be in local news/in newspaper
-Attract more contributions/donations b/c they're more likely to win (not a waste of your
group's money). If they're more likely to win, this outweighs the importance of giving $ to
whoever shares your issue opinions
3. Structure of state legislature
a) Is divided into committees based on policy ground (ag, budget, etc.)
-Incumbents have ability to specialize in policy. They become a leader in a policy
that affects their district. They make laws for this and get support from constituents.
b) Office staff
-Provided to legislator
-Constituents send out emails based on how you're doing, raising votes
-Staff takes calls, helps do job, keep constituents happy, candidate gets credit Professional vs. Less Professional Legislatures
Lloyd Esquivel - 8th District in Wyoming
-Like TX, Wyoming has biennial sessions meeting every other year
-They meet 40 days one year, 20 in the next
-No salary pay - paid $150/day in session = $9000 every 2 years
-Daily expenses covered at $85/day, spending must be documented though
-Esquivel represents Cheyenne, doesn't get expenses covered
-Besides House/Senate, legislators in state do NOT have staff
-Esquivel has no office. Just a desk on floor of state legislature
-Must take phone calls at HOME
-If you ask Esquivel what his profession is, he'll say attorney
-Being a state legislator here = a service, not a profession of job
Leeland Yee - California
-Over two-year period - biennial
-240 days every two years (more than Wyoming, double TX)
-Receives $116,000 as salary per year
-Also gets $173 per day while in session to cover daily expenses
-He doesn't have to turn in receipts showing his daily expenses. Basically is just an add-on to salary.
-Some expenses are already taken care of - he has a car leased to him
-Has office in Sacramento, and two offices in his home district
-7 staff members in Sacramento, 7 staff members in home office
-His staff help him with media relations, job, and with constituents, etc.
Four Features of Professional Legislatures
-Is a full-time job
-Low turnover (how many new people at each session)
-Low change/many returning members.
-Based on incumbency advantage - should have low turnover everywhere, right?
-Higher turnover = result of members leaving voluntarily, not losing election. Yee wants to
keep job/more motivated. Esquivel not motivated to stay.
-Salaries high ($30,000-40,000 a year)
-Professional legislatures provide their members with lots of services (office staff, office space, things they
need to help them do their job well.)
-Professionalism came along in 1960s-1970s
-Today, there are many more professional legislatures than before
-The opposite extreme (opposite from highly professional legislatures) is citizen legislatures
-get paid nothing (no salary) (just per-day salary, very low)
-Why do this? It is NOT a profession
-good advertising for your own business (law, etc.)
-can lead to a higher profession (get promoted or new, better job because you serve govt.)
-Most legislatures are in between the two extremes
-If legislature is fully professional, gets a score of 1
-Top 3 professional = California (score of .662), New York, Wisconsin (.44)
-8 states meet 10% or less
-TX = 15th most professional legislature
-Professional legislatures are in session more often, and can pass more legislature
-They are more likely to pass complex legislature, likely major reforms The Lawmaking Process
NEBRASKA DOES NOT LOOK LIKE THIS
-to introduce a bill, must be done by a legislator
-governor wants a law introduced? He must get a legislator to do it
-Head of House will refer the bill to a committee
-Referral: important power of Speaker of the House and head of Senate
-can choose which committee, depending on how many votes they want it to get
-committee can make changes to the bill
-when they pass it, after doing tests, reviewing, etc, the bill goes to floor action
-Most bills die at committee or sub-committee stage
-Floor Action- everyone in the House is there, can debate and amend it, then take vote to pass it. If they pass
it, it goes to the Senate. If the Senate amended the bill differently than the House, then it goes to conference
committee. Needed when the two bills coming from both houses are not the same.
-People from house and Senate try to come up with a unified bill that will pass in both houses. Either
a unified bill is produced, or the bill is discarded entirely
-After the bill is made unified, another floor vote in both houses. They now can't change the bill,
only debate it
-If they are the same (or after conference committee they are fixed and made equal) it goes to governor
-The # of bills introduced in legislative session is much higher than # bills passed
-Some legislatures don't have time to review all bills
-many legislators introduce bills they know will not be passed
-they gain support from constituents
-look good just from "trying" to introduce a bill that your constituents would support Legislative Districts
-Single member districts: district that has ONE representative for House and/or Senate
-Geographic districts (obvious)
-Malapportionment - situations where districts have uneven population numbers
-does not occur on purpose, but occurs naturally over time, w/o redistricting
-violates the principle of "one person one vote"
-want to be in small group/district
-favors underpopulated districts
-in choosing leaders, your vote counts more in smaller districts
-By mid 1900s, most rural districts were favored, b/c people migrated to the cities
-Supreme Court Rulings
-Baker v. Carr
-Reynolds v. Sims
- both deal with malapportionment and require states to reapportion districts to fix it
-district populations must be within 2% of each other
Drawing District Lines and Redistricting Strategy
-After every census (normally - every 10 years)
-Is a highly political process b/c traditionally, lines are redrawn by the state legislature
-they will try to advantage their own political party
-Whichever party is in majority in state legislature will try to draw lines where is benefits them
-Some states (14) have other method of redistricting
-Divided govt. (state leg. one party, governor the other, etc.) will have balance redistricting
-Unified govt.: majority part