Functions of Political Parties
Political parties are organized groups of people with similar ideas or ideology about the government, with shared policy goals that work together to elect individuals to political office, create and implement policies, and further a political agenda.
Parties gain control over the government by winning elections with candidates they sponsor or nominate for positions in government on all levels. They also coordinate political campaigns and mobilize voters.
List of Functions:
Recruiting and nominating candidates
Educating the electorate about campaign issues
Helping candidates win elections
Monitoring actions of officeholders
Characteristics of Political Parties
A two-party system characterizes the American political process.
Republican and Democratic Parties
Although third parties rarely win elections, they can play an important role in public politics
Similarities between parties
Organize to win elections
Influence public policies
Reflect both liberal and conservative views
Define views to win majority support by appealing to the political center
Differences between parties
Stated in party platforms and reflected in campaigning
Try reading the party platforms:
Introduce new ideas and/or press for a particular issue
Often revolve around a political personality
Campaigns for elective office emphasize and use media to attract voters
Voters evaluate information presented in political campaigns to make reasoned choices among candidates
How do citizens make informed choices in elections?
Separating fact from opinion
How does the media play a role in the political process?
Mass media roles in elections
Emphasizing selected issues
Writing editorials, creating political cartoons, publishing op-ed pieces
Broadcasting different points of view
Role of Campaign Contributions and Costs
Rising campaign costs mean that candidates must conduct extensive fundraising activities
limits opportunities to run for public office
gives an advantage to wealthy candidates
encourages the development of political action committees (PACs)
gives issue-oriented special interest groups increased influence
has led to efforts to reform campaign finance (limits placed on contributions)
Requirements for Voter Registration/Participation
Voters must register before they are allowed to vote
Voting determines how important election issues are to citizens
What are the qualifications for voter registration in Virginia?
Qualifications to register to vote in Virginia:
Citizen of the United States
Resident of Virginia and precinct
At least 18 years old
How to register to vote in Virginia
In person at the registrar’s office, at the DMV, or at other designated sites
By mail-in application
Voter registration is closed 22 days before elections
Factors predict voter turnout (which citizens will vote) -- education, age, lack of interest, failure to register, etc.
Every vote is important!
Role of Electoral College in Presidential Elections
The Electoral College process is used to select the president and vice president of the United States.
Electoral College process
Electors for each state are chosen by popular vote (the number of electors of each state is based on the state's population)
Most states have a winner-take-all system
The electors meet to vote for president and vice president
The winner-take-all system leads to the targeting of densely populated states for campaigning, although candidates must pay attention to less populated states that are swing states.
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