A.P. Civics Notes: Chapter 8
“Elections and Campaigns”
Presidential versus Congressional Campaigns
1. Elections have two critical phases—getting nominated and getting
elected—and to win an election, one must develop a unique plan
that would probably only work in the U.S.
2. In getting nominated in America, individual effort is greatly needed,
whereas in Europe, it’s a party try.
3. Parties used to play a much bigger role in U.S. politics than they do
now, where voters usually vote for a name, not a party (the opposite
is true in most other Democratic nations).
i. It used to be that party machines and/or caucuses could
heavily influence or even select who their candidates would
be, but with the decentralization of gov’t and the campaign
reforms, campaigns have fallen more and more onto the
candidates themselves, NOT the parties.
4. Presidential and Congressional races are different in important ways:
Presidential elections are bigger and more competitive than
Congressional races, but in Congress,
ii. During off years (no presidential election), much fewer people
actually go out and vote.
iii. Members of Congress can take credit for successes (even if
they don’t deserve it) and communicate with their constituents
much more directly than the president can.
iv. Congressmen can deny responsibility for any messes or
wrongdoings in Congress, since they tend to run as individuals,
not as members of a party.
At one time, riding the
of a popular president could get
politicians into office; these people would try to attach their name to
the popular president somehow and hope that the people, seeing
such names together, would vote for that politician as well (that’s
not the case today).
i. As a result, Congressional elections have become independent
of presidential ones, and Congressmen can be elected even
though other, more influential members of their party have
drastically lost popularity.
6. In running for a presidency, one must “get mentioned,” or somehow
have his/her name heard by the public, whether it is through the
media, by making lots of speeches, by being associated with a