Lecture+5.American+Political+Institutions+and+Race

Lecture+5.American+Political+Institutions+and+Race -...

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Unformatted text preview: American Race Relations Lecture 5. American Political Institutions and Race Distinctive U.S. Institutions written Constitution presidential system majoritarian electoral system separation of powers independent judiciary federalism U.S. Electoral Structure majoritarian systems aka first past the post, winner take all simple plurality of vote needed to win office key feature: single-member districts found in: Anglo democracies proportional systems number of seats won proportional to percent of vote won key feature: multimember districts Duvergers Law in majoritarian electoral systems, there is a tendency to have only two major parties parties that predictably come in third in elections will win no seats proportional systems tend to have multiple parties small parties can win seats Parties not in the Constitution, but important for democracies voters typically face constraints of time, information, and resources parties present voters with information and choices parties mobilize voters Median Voter Theory if voters can be represented as a line along a single continuum, and if voters vote for the politician closest to their preferences, and if there are only two parties, then two parties will tend to converge on the median voter Parties and Racial Minorities party competition typically seen as good for minorities if one party ignores a minority, the other party can swoop in to collect their votes V. O. Key: one-party South helps explain why Jim Crow lasted so long there Frymer racial distribution is skewed and lopsided median voter in United States is probably a white person with ambivalent to conservative views on black interests black voters concentrated on one side = they are captured voters, instead of swing voters if median voter is not receptive to minority interests, incentive for party to downplay racial issues Case Study: Formation of Mass Parties in Early 19 th Century explicitly designed to mute significance of slavery issue representation at Democratic party convention:...
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