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POLI 325D2 Chapter Notes -Zip Code, Andrew Gelman, Pork Barrel


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POLI 325D2
Professor
Harold Waller

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8.1 Why Parties? (1995)—John H. Aldrich
pol. parties should be central to the Am. pol. system and integral parts of all pol. life
parties cannot be understood apart from their own historical context and dynamics or those of
the pol. system as a whole
only in relation to the polity, the gov’t and institutions, and the historical context of the
times
studying pol. parties means studying a major pair of pol. institutions
they are nongovernmental pol. institutions
they are endogenous institutions
it was the actions of pol. actors that created pol. parties in the first place
it is the actions of pol. actors that have shaped and altered parties over time
the pol. party is the most variable pol. body in its rules, regulations, and procedures (formal
organization) and in its informal methods + traditions
often the same set of actors who make party rule and then choose party outcomes
all power flows directly or indirectly from the great body of the people
public elects its pol. leaders, but it is this leadership that legislates, executes, and
adjudicates policy
office-seekers are the central actors in the party
other actors: those who hold/have access to critical resources that office seekers need to
attain ambitions
large investors, pollsters, media and advertising experts, computerized fundraising
specialists
benefit seekers; realization of their goals depends on the party’s success in capturing
office
voters are not part of the pol. party at all
the targets of party activities
rational choice account of the party
just as winning an election is a means to other ends for politicians, so too is the pol.
party a means to these other ends
parties attempt to solve problems that current institutional arrangements do not solve
the problem of ambition and elective office seeking
office seekers want to win elections
parties regulate access to these offices
pol. party and the 2-party system are means of regulating competition and
channeling those ambitions
major party nomination is necessary for election
partisan institutions developed to regulate competition
problem is that if an office is very desirable, there will be more seekers than
positions
the problem of making decisions for the party and for the polity
in office, partisans determine policy outcomes
propose alternatives, shape agenda, pass/reject leg., and implement
what they enact
policy formation and execution process is very partisan
most retain their partisanship throughout their career
the parties are institutions designed to promote the achievement of
collective choices
the problem of collective action
to win office, candidates need more than a party’s nomination
must persuade public and mobilize supporters
how to get supporters to vote for you while they provide the cadre of
workers and contribute the resources so you can win?
the elective office seekers’ and holders’ interests are to win
the three problems become practical problems to politicians when they adversely
affect their chances of winning
party must be able to develop effective means of nomination and support for election
to influence victory of their candidates (and consequently, the party)
majorities in Congress are hard to attain and maintain
the failure to act when there are broadly shared interests—the problem of collective
action—reduces the prospects of victory
parties are institutions
they have some durability
party reforms are alterations meant to last for years/decades
legislators might create a party rather than a temporary majority coalition to
increase their chances of winning today AND in the future
American democracy chooses by plurality or majority rule
election therefore requires broad-based support
parties may help officeholders win more and more often than alternatives
pork barrel politics: all winners get a piece of pork for their districts
8.2: The Story Behind Obama’s Victory (2009)—Andrew Gelman and John Sides
strong pressure to provide explanations as to how candidates won after election
commentators tend to fixate on a single piece of data and exaggerate its significance
political scientists’ and economics’ models predicted Obama’s modest 53% win, based on:
state of the economy
approval of the incumbent pres.
casualties during war
Obama was not more effective in red states, did not redraw the electoral map
what he did was to shift the overall electoral map in his favour
the economy shifted the whole terrain in the Democrats’ favour and Obama
took advantage of this
Obama did better than Kerry in every state
recent pattern of a more stabilized red-blue map
belief that working-class whites are swing votes is wrong
Obama did better with these voters than Kerry
difference across classes were quite small and did not indicate any consistent
disadvantage for Obama with this group
on average, Democrats do better among low-income voters
Obama did better than Kerry and Gore with every income group
Bradley/Wildler effect that Black candidates do worse in actual election than in polls was
proven false
racial impact question
racial identities are not the only relevant identities
partisanship tends to be more important than prejudices
racially-prejudiced voters tend to be in low-income Red states in the South, so not
equally distributed
financial crisis question
not so much a game changer
Obama had already taken the lead before Lehman Brothers collapsed
only kept voters’ minds focused on the economy, which was already a weak point for
the Republicans
voter contact and mobilization mattered
the more you are present and spend, the greater your margins
mobilized the youth, who will most likely be lifelong Democrats
8.3: In Defense of the Electoral College (2001)—James R. Stoner Jr.
remarkable how quickly Americans acquiesced in the tally of the 2000 Electoral College Bush
v. Gore
all the attention post-election was focused on recounts, lawsuits, and the Supreme Court
the actual vote in the Electoral College was anti-climactic
defend the legitimacy of our institutions
does little good to doubt that the ppl govern or to think that the Constitution is an
arbitrary set of rules
odds are ag. an amendment to replace the College with a direct popular vote b/c more
states stand to lose their relative impact on the election
pragmatist perspective
EC ensures that small states get noticed in pres. elections
funnelling the popular vote through the EC often turns relatively weak popular
pluralities into decisive electoral victories
EC discourages third parties and their consequent fragmentation of the electorate
vote in the college is public and certain
constitutionalist perspective
links EC with the other institutional arrangements of the federal gov’t which check and
balance the force of nat’l majorities
separation of powers
bicameralism
equal representation of the states in the Senate
and independent judiciary
the rule of law itself
if the popular vote had been thought decisive, some voters might have voted differently and
the candidates would have campaigned differently, not ignoring certain states
EC functions as a democratic institution
it has historically been the engine that fueled the movement towards democracy
demise of nominations by caucuses in state legislatures in the 1800s and the
rise of state nominating conventions
the movement was national because the states moved in concert
beginning of 20thC new democratization wave
established in many states the process of direct democracy to
supplement/replace representation
Black oppression was as a result of majority rule
today it safeguards democracy
states today are more democratic and accessible than the federal gov’t
the states as political communities
local and state gov’ts oversee concerns more immediately pressing to ppl’s lives
typically distant and abstract interests in nat’l pol.
in the states, interests are immediate and concrete
harder to predict policies of members in local gov’t
in the states, one finds the real life of pol. communities, with struggle, disappointment,
triumph, and complacency of democratic politics
states are the pol. voice of the diverse moral communities bound together in the
federal republic
EC affirms the importance of these self-governing communities and helps secure their
interests in self-gov't
indeed, the whole pres. selection process focuses nat’l attention on the states
and their distinctiveness
8.4—Inside the Grassroots Field Operation of Barack Obama (2008)—Tim Dickinson
Obama campaign quietly worked to integrate online technologies with the kind of neighbour-
to-neighbour movement-building
Obama campaign shattered the top-down, common-and-control, broadcast-TV model
made it bottom-up campaign
people put in their zip code online and then paid organizers help these ppl build the
organization bottom up
these ppl. will then organize their own local rallies and recruit others with phone
calls and early-voting open houses
Obama campaign trained 4,000 percent captains over 3-day weekend
from the beginning, they had an initiative to take their online force offline
use physical crowds at Obama rallies to bolster email list
MyBo social network for Obama supporters to organize
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