Campaigns and Elections

Campaigns and Elections - Campaigns and Elections Campaigns...

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Unformatted text preview: Campaigns and Elections Campaigns Lecture Outline Lecture Presidential Elections – – – Presidential Primaries The Electoral College What Decides a Presidential Election? » 2008 Election Analysis » Presidential Campaigns » Presidential Debates » Political Advertising » Last Minute Surprises US House/Senate Elections – Incumbency Advantages & Disadvantages – Midterm Elections The Basics Elections Elections – Why have elections? » Elections give legitimacy to the government in power Even authoritarian governments hold (e.g., North Korea and Even Saddam Hussein’s Iraq) “sham” elections, to legitimize the government (at least in appearance) government » Elections are the ultimate expression of public opinion They allow those who are ruled (the public) to have a say in who They rules them (elected officials, such as the president) rules – Primary and General Elections » Primary Elections – First, members of a given party choose one candidate from among their own ranks in primary elections candidate In 2008, 8 Democrats and 9 Republicans ran for president In – Democratic voters chose Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL) in a close Democratic race against Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) race – Republican voters chose Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) Elections Elections The Basics – Primary and General Elections (continued) » General Elections –Then, members of different parties (i.e., Republicans v. Democrats v. 3rd party candidates) run against each Republicans other in general elections other The winner of the general election gets to serve in the The government – For example, Barack Obama (D) defeated John McCain (R) For and is now our president and Presidential Primary Elections Presidential Background Information – History – The first presidential primaries were held in 1904 The » Primaries were part of the progressive movement in America, Primaries whose goal was to reduce the power of the “political machines” whose “Machines” were led by local or state party leaders, who nominated Machines” candidates for general elections candidates » Primary elections gave the people the power to nominate candidates Primary for general elections for Still, party leaders ignored primary results and continued to choose Still, candidates at the nominating conventions until 1972 candidates – Open versus Closed Primaries » Open Primaries – Independents, Democrats and Republicans can vote in any primary election, but they have to chose only one primary. A member of the other party may “crossover” to vote for a candidate that would be weaker in the general election would » Closed Primaries – only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary and only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary Presidential Primary Elections Presidential The Effect of Front-Loading – Front Loading – a process where states move their primary earlier in the election year…for instance, 20+ states moved their primary from March or April to February 5th (2008) in the last presidential election cycle April – What type of candidate is favored in a front-loaded primary season? » Insider candidates – those candidates who can raise the most money and secure the most endorsements from party leaders money during the pre-primary season (a year or two before the primaries begin) begin) – Examples » No Front-Loading (1976) – Jimmy Carter, an “outsider” candidate, had time to build momentum and gain the support (money and endorsements) of party insiders over a primary season spread out over 6 months months » Front-Loading (2000) – John McCain (the outsider candidate) gained momentum early but was quickly buried by George Bush, who had the party activists and party leaders on his side in a compressed primary season The Electoral College The The president is elected through the electoral college – The popular vote winner in each state wins the number of “electoral” The votes from that state votes » For instance, in the general election in Texas in 2008, John McCain For received 55% of the vote, Obama received 44% received Since McCain won the popular vote in Texas, he received all of Since Texas’ electoral votes…Texas is a “winner take all” state – The electoral vote is equal to the number of representatives each state The has in Congress has » Electoral votes = Representatives in US House + members in US Electoral Senate Senate » Texas will have 36 members of the US House starting in 2012 and Texas every state has 2 members of the US Senate every So, Texas will have 38 electoral votes (36 US Representatives + 2 So, nd US Senators = 38) in 2012, 2nd only to California, which has 55 US only – The candidate that wins at least 270 electoral votes (out of a total of The 538) wins the presidency 538) 2008 Presidential Election 2008 Blue states went for Obama…red states for McCain – A presidential election is essentially the combination of 50 presidential separate state elections (plus the District of Columbia) separate Margin of Victory Strong Dem – greater than 10% Weak Dem – 5 to 10% Barely Dem – less than 5% Exactly Tied – 0% Barely Rep – less than 5% Weak Rep – 5% to 10% Strong Rep – greater than 10% Analysis: 2008 Election Analysis: What made the difference in the 2008 presidential election? – 63% of the voting public cited the economy as the top reason for 63% voting in 2008 voting » No other issue came close in importance, including Iraq, terrorism, health No care, energy, taxes care, » The sitting president is typically blamed for a poor economy or for an The economic crisis…McCain being affiliated with Bush’s political party was hurt by the financial crisis of 2008; as the out-party candidate, Obama benefited – Obama was the valence-advantaged candidate (on non-policy issues) » Obama’s candidacy was historic (first viable black candidate); he is inspiring; Obama’s he was an “outsider” (which gave his change message credibility); he is a true believer in liberal ideology believer » Again, Bush was unpopular with the American people, and McCain could not Again, disassociate himself with Bush disassociate – Obama ran a first-rate campaign » Obama used the internet to raise money and organize volunteers to a degree Obama never seen before…consequently, Obama was so well funded and organized that he was able to win traditionally Republican states (e.g., Indiana, Virginia) that The Presidential Campaign The Does the campaign matter? Yes, but only in close races – Political science forecasting models typically consider 2 factors to Political predict to predict the outcome of presidential elections: predict » State of the economy – 9 months before the election » Popularity of incumbent president – 90 days before election – If the presidential race is close, within about 2% points between the If candidates, the forecasting models are not reliable candidates, » The models called the 1960, 1968, 1976 and 2000 presidential races The wrong…in 2000, the model chose Gore as the winner by 10% points! wrong…in » But in elections that are not as close, the model predicts well 1988: predicted Bush41 would win 53.3% …Bush actually won 53.9% of the 2-party vote of 1992: predicted Bush41 would lose with 46.8% …Bush lost with 46.6% of the 2-party vote of 2004: predicted Bush43 would win 51.7%...Bush won 51.5% of the 2party vote 2008: predicted Obama would win with 52.2%...Obama won with predicted 53.2% of the 2-party vote 53.2% Presidential Debates Presidential Do the presidential debates matter? Yes, sometimes. » 1960??: By all accounts, JFK outperformed Nixon in their first televised debate televised The election was so close that it’s not clear if the debates mattered » 1976??: President Ford blundered by saying Poland was not under the control of the Soviet Union, when it actually was control Ford lost to Carter, but the loss is credited to the fallout over Ford Watergate not to Ford’s blunder Watergate » 1980: President Carter and Republican candidate Reagan were even in the polls, until the two debated in the last week of the campaign the Reagan did not come across as a war monger; he eased the fears of Reagan the public; then public opinion turned in favor of Reagan, one week later, Reagan won the election in a landslide. week » 1992: 3rd party candidate, Ross Perot, performed well in the debates with Bush41 and Democratic candidate Clinton with Perot went on the win 19% of the popular vote Bush41 came across as having no steam; glanced at his watch, Bush41 appeared to be bored appeared Political Advertising Political Why candidates use negative ads? Because they work!! – Raising doubts in the public’s mind about an opponent is always an Raising effective strategy effective » The Willie Horton Ad (1988) – Massachusetts had a furlough program for convicts, where they would be released on good behavior for a weekend weekend Willie Horton was one such convict, who committed a rape and Willie murder while on furlough murder Michael Dukakis (Democratic nominee for president) was Michael Governor of Massachusetts at the time of the Horton furlough Governor Dukakis was portrayed as being “weak on crime” in 1988 » Newt Gingrich Ads (1996) – Guilt by association: Clinton ads portrayed Republican candidate Bob Dole as another Newt Gingrich, both of whom “allegedly” wanted to destroy Medicare for the elderly both Gingrich was a conservative lightening rod, who was ruined Gingrich politically in the aftermath of the government shutdowns in ’95 and ’96, which was fought out over reductions in Medicare spending ’96, The public had a very low opinion of Gingrich Political Advertising Political Candidates also use positive advertisements – Morning in America Ad (1984) – “Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?” » Portrayed America as economically strong…people were working Portrayed again again » The Reagan ad compared the good economic times of the Reagan years The to the stagnant economy of the Carter years to More so than the political candidates, “independent” 527 More organizations run attack ads today organizations – Swift Boat Veterans (2004) – Raised doubts about John Kerry’s “war hero” status during the Vietnam War hero” Kerry’s war record was supposed to inoculate him from charges of Kerry’s being “too weak” to face down America’s enemies being Were ads in the 2008 presidential campaign decisive?? – Maybe – Obama won 9 states in 2008 that had previously voted for Bush Maybe in 2004…Obama conducted advertising blitzes in close battleground states, like Virginia and NC…he was particularly successful linking the health Last Minute Surprises Last The Bin Laden Communiqué (2004 election) – Four days before the election, bin Laden released a video – Did the communiqué hurt Kerry? Did » Terrorism was a major issue in 2004, and it did help George Bush…John Kerry is Terrorism convinced the communiqué sank his chances for victory convinced The Drunk Driving Charge (2000 election) – Four days before the election, a Democratic operative released information about Bush’s Four drunk driving arrest in Maine, which occurred 25 years earlier drunk – Did the revelation hurt Bush43 (the son)? » Polls don’t reflect that it did much damage, but Bush believed he was pulling away Polls from Gore before the drunk driving arrest became public from Iran-Contra Indictments (1992 election) – Four days before the election, Independent Counsel Walsh handed down indictments of Four Reagan Defense Secretary, Casper Weinberger Reagan » Bush41 (the father) was cited as knowing more about the Iran-Contra scandal than Bush41 he had previously revealed he – Did the charge hurt Bush41? » Probably not. Bush41 was headed to an election day defeat in 1992, but his Probably campaign team felt the revelation was devastating campaign US House/Senate Elections US Incumbency Advantage Incumbents almost always win 95% incumbency reelection rate in the US House Usually 80+% reelection rate in the US Senate Deception in the Numbers Despite exceptionally high incumbency reelection rates, changes in majority control are still possible Republicans won control in 1994 Democrats won control in 2006 Republicans won control of the US House in 2010 Public Opinion of Congress Public People have favorable opinions about their representative but not about the US House generally. This contributes to the “incumbency advantage” phenomenon Public Opinion of Members of Congress Public Politicians generally and US Senators and House Members in particular are NOT viewed as ethical The public has a very cynical view of politics; politicians are viewed almost as badly as “car salesmen” and “telemarketers” US House/Senate Elections US Are incumbents ever vulnerable? Yes. – Scandals – The House Bank scandal in the early 1990s hurt some incumbents…sex scandals can hurt too incumbents…sex » The House Bank Scandal (1991) The House bank would allow its members to write “hot” checks (w/ o penalty), with the understanding the money would be paid back – Average people don’t get to write “hot” checks without being Average punished punished 77 of 110 incumbents who wrote “hot” checks did not return to 77 Washington following the 1992 election, either because they retired or were defeated in the primary or general election. or » Sex Scandals In 2002, Gary Condit (D-CA) lost in the Democratic primaries In because of the fallout over his affair with an 24-year old intern who was mysteriously killed was In 2006, Mark Foley (R-FL) resigned when it was revealed he had In solicited sex from minors (teenage boys who had served in the congressional page program) congressional US House/Senate Elections US Are incumbents ever vulnerable? Yes. – Presidential Coattails – Some presidents have “coattails” that help members of his party get elected to the US House and US Senate party » If a House or Senate incumbent is not of the winning presidential candidate’s If party, the incumbent may be vulnerable party, » But fewer and fewer US House districts are competitive, which will diminish But the effect of presidential coattails in the next presidential landslide the State legislatures usually draw most districts such that they produce “safe State seats,” guaranteeing that one party will win the seat seats,” – Redistricting – States redraw US House districts after every national census (every 10 years) 10 » In Texas, Republicans took over both the Texas House and Senate for the first In time since the Reconstruction Era (1870s) in 2003 time » US House districts were drawn to give Republicans a 21-to-11 advantage in the US Texas delegation to the US House Texas Five (5) Democratic incumbents lost in the 2004 elections In 2006, the US Supreme Court upheld the 2003 Texas redistricting but In forced the Texas Legislature to redraw 1 of 32 congressional districts because that district had been drawn to diminish the power of hispanics because US House/Senate Elections US Midterm Election Trends Incumbents may be vulnerable in midterm elections, when they are affiliated with the same political party as the president The president’s party typically loses seats in a midterm election The trend is particularly strong in the US House 2010 Midterm Election Outcome Outcome The momentum headed into the 2010 Midterm Elections was on the side of Republicans Enthusiasm The “enthusiasm gap” was as strong for Republicans in 2010 as it was in 1994, when Republicans took over majorities in Congress Independent Voters Independent voters who planned to vote Republican were much more enthusiastic about voting in 2010 than independents who planned to vote Democratic Recent US House/Senate Elections Recent 2006 Midterm: Democrats won in a “wave” election – Democrats won majorities in the House and Senate for the Democrats first time since 1994 first » Why did Republican lose control in Congress? Iraq War: the public turned against the Iraq War and the Democrats promised to try to end US involvement Democrats Scandals: A few Republicans were caught engaging in corruption, two went to jail corruption, Discontent with Republican Leadership: Republicans lost their ideological mission, only wanted to hold on to power ideological 2008 Presidential: Democrats increased their majorities » Why did Democrats win big again in 2008? A Democratic Year: Congressional elections were nationalized – The combined effect of excitement about Barack Obama and The weariness with the Bush administration helped Democrats Continued Discontent with Republicans: Republicans had not recovered from the 2006 loss, presented no alternative plan recovered ...
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