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10-14-09_P200_Notes - Political Science 200 American...

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10-14-09 Political Science 200: American Politics Notes The Congress I Congress Today -Nelson Polsby: As an institution, Congress was pretty much was the same until the 1970s -Key Contemporary Changes and Differences: -Incumbency Advantage -Southern Realignment -Partisan Polarization -The Permanent Campaign Incumbency Advantage -In 2000 more than 98% of incumbents were re-elected - Why? -Reasons: -Elections are often more candidate centered, than party centered -Incumbents have high name recognition, greater media visibility -Incumbents have power office: constituent service, travel, pork barrel politics, etc. -Incumbents tend to raise more money -But: Elections may become more party-centered during times of national upheaval Southern Realignment - What factors drove Southern Realignment? - Race: -Republicans associated with Reconstruction -Democrats associated with the Civil Rights Act and other major race-based government policies -Declining salience of economic class (but class still relevant) -Southern politics used to be class-based which benefited the Democrats -But, rising prosperity has weakened that bond -Rich State, Poor State, Red State, Blue State -Rich people tend to vote Republican, poor people more Democratic -Rich people in poor states (Red) vote more republican than rich people in blue states (Blue) -Increasing salience of religion. Partisan Polarization -Partisan Polarization -Increased Partisan Unity -Increased Ideological Distance Between Parties - What is causing partisan polarization? -Conventional Wisdom: Gerrymandered Partisan Redistricting (Incorrect) -Polarization:
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-Increasing ideological polarization among voters? -Increasing partisan polarization among elites and organized interest groups? -Movement away from candidate-centered, local politics, towards party-centered, national politics -Differing response of parties to organize themselves in Congress (GOP embrace of ideological homogeneity) -Americans often claim to like bipartisanship: - Does partisan polarization represent a failure of representation? -Or, are polarized representatives giving the people what they want? Congress and Public Opinion -Congress more popular sometimes than others -Fenno: People tend to favor their personal representative member but dislike Congress as a legislative body -In terms of public opinion: -Liberals tend to think Congress is too conservative, -Conservatives tend to think Congress is too liberal -Periods when Congress has received relatively high approval ratings -Mid 1960s- began to decline after 1968 (after JFK assassination, LBJ and the Great Society) -1997-1998 Balanced Budget legislation) -Post 9/11 - What affects approval of Congress?
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10-14-09_P200_Notes - Political Science 200 American...

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