lecture17.doc - LECTURE NOTES UCLA PS 40 Department of...

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LECTURE NOTES UCLA Department of Political Science Winter 2010 PS 40 Introduction to American Politics Prof. Thomas Schwartz HUNK 17 THE FEDERAL ELECTORAL SYSTEM Here we shall talk about the mechanics of how the President and Congress are elected. Congressional elections. The Senate has, as you know, two representatives from each state, elected for staggered six- year terms. But state representation in the House is proportional to a state’s population. For example, California, the largest state in population, has 53 representatives. House members - - Congressmen, as they are officially known - - are elected for two-year terms. Every 10 years, after the national census, representation in the House is evaluated and, if necessary, changed. Election outcomes depend not only on voting but on three procedural (or institutional) choices made by statute : - - States pick the voting rule , including such things as whether or not there are party primaries, how voters register, etc. Nomination is usually in party primaries, although some states (e.g. Connecticut) have conventions and some (e.g. Louisiana) forego partisan nomination altogether. The federal government picks the exact method of apportioning House seats among the states. States decide their district maps – how they are to be divided into districts. Elections in Each District Usually party primaries take place to nominate the candidates, and then there is a general election . Each district elects one representative: we have (as we say) single-member districts . 1
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Usually the voting rule is Plurality Rule , or “first past the post”: the candidate with the most votes (not necessarily a majority) wins. Some states in the South are exceptions: if no one gets more than 50 percent they hold runoff elections. The main alternative to the single member district (SMD) system is party-list proportional representation , or List PR , which represents parties in proportion to their votes. Compared with legislators in other countries, U.S. congressmen rely less on their party affiliation and more on their personal record of service to their districts. In other words, in the US the vote for representatives is often more a personal vote than a partisan vote . Presidential Elections
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This note was uploaded on 11/16/2010 for the course POL SCI pol sci 40 taught by Professor Schwartz during the Spring '09 term at UCLA.

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lecture17.doc - LECTURE NOTES UCLA PS 40 Department of...

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