Chapter Overview

Chapter Overview - Chapter Overview Political parties are...

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Chapter Overview Political parties are essential to democracy--simplifying voting choices, organizing the competition, unifying the electorate, bridging the separation of powers and fostering cooperation among branches of government, translating public preferences into policy, and providing loyal opposition. Political parties help structure voting choice by nominating candidates to run for office. Before the advent of direct primaries, in which voters determine the party nominees, the parties had more control of who ran under their label. States determine the nomination rules. While most states employ the direct primary, some use a caucus or mixed caucus system where more committed partisans have a larger role in the decision of who gets nominated. American parties are moderate. Bringing factions and interests together, they are broad enough to win the presidency and other elections. Third parties have been notably less successful. One reason for this is our single-member district, winner-take-all election rules. In systems with proportional representation or multimember districts, there is a greater tendency for more parties and the need to assemble governing coalitions across parties. American parties have experienced critical elections and realignments. Most political scientists agree the last realignment occurred in 1932. In recent years, there has been divided government and an increase in the number of persons who call themselves Independents. This trend is sometimes called dealignment, but most Independents are closet partisans who vote for the party toward which they lean. For the last 50 years it has been routine to have divided government, with one party in control of the presidency and the other in control of one or both houses of Congress. Because of the partisan shift in the South toward Republicans, Republicans won control of the White House, often with Democrats controlling one or both houses of Congress. Successful presidents have found ways to cope with divided
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Chapter Overview - Chapter Overview Political parties are...

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