Ap government Chapter 9 Nominations and Campaigns

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AP Government Chapter 9

Nominations and Campaigns

  • Two stages
  • Nomination: party’s official endorsement of a candidate for office (requires money, media attention, and momentum)
  • Campaign strategy: Way in which candidates attempt to manipulate each of these elements to achieve nomination
  • National Party Convention: Functions to select presidential and vice presidential candidate and write a party platform
  • Caucus: Meeting of state leaders where they select their delegates to the national convention (Iowa 1st)

The Nomination Game

  • Competing for Delegates
    • Nomination game is an elimination contest
    • Goal is to win a majority of delegates’ support at the national party convention, or the supreme power within each of the parties
      • The convention meets every four years to nominate the party’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
      • Conventions are but a formality today.

The Nomination Game

  • Competing for Delegates
    • The Caucus Road
      • Caucus: meetings of state party leaders for selecting delegates to the national convention
      • Organized like a pyramid from local precincts to the state’s convention
      • A handful of states use a caucus—open to all voters who are registered with a party
      • The Iowa caucus is first and most important.

The Nomination Game

  • Competing for Delegates
    • The Primary Road
      • Primary: elections in which voters in a state vote for a nominee (or delegates pledged to the nominee)
        • Began at turn of 20th century by progressive reformers
        • McGovern-Fraser Commission led to selection of delegates through primary elections
        • Most delegates are chosen through primaries.
        • Superdelegates: democratic leaders who automatically get a delegate slot
      • Frontloading is the tendency of states to hold primaries early to capitalize on media attention. New Hampshire is first.
      • Generally primaries serve as elimination contests.

The Nomination Game

  • Competing for Delegates
    • Evaluating the Primary and Caucus System
      • Disproportionate attention to early ones
      • Prominent politicians do not run.
      • Money plays too big a role.
      • Participation in primaries and caucuses is low and unrepresentative; 20 percent vote in primaries.
      • The system gives too much power to the media.


  • Presidential Primaries: Voters in a state go to the polls and vote for a candidate or delegates pledged to that candidate
  • Party Platform: Party’s statement of its goals and policies for the next four years

Superdelegates: Democratic Party

  • Superdelegates: Politicians who are awarded convention seats on the basis of their position

Party Platforms

  • http://www.ontheissues.org/2004_GOP_Platform.htm
  • http://www.ontheissues.org/Dem_Platform_2004.htm

Money and Campaigning

  • The Maze of Campaign Finance Reforms
    • Federal Election Campaign Act (1974)
      • Created the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to administer campaign finance laws for federal elections
      • Created the Presidential Election Campaign Fund
      • Provided partial public financing for presidential primaries
        • Matching funds: Contributions of up to $250 are matched for candidates who meet conditions, such as limiting spending.
      • Provided full public financing for major party candidates in the general election
      • Required full disclosure and limited contributions

The Maze of Campaign Finance Reforms

    • Soft Money: political contributions (not subject to contribution limits) earmarked for party-building expenses or generic party advertising
    • The McCain-Feingold Act (2002) banned soft money, increased amount of individual contributions, and limited “issue ads.”
    • 527s: independent groups that seek to influence political process but are not subject to contribution restricts because they do not directly seek election of particular candidates

Campaign Finance Reform

    • Federal Election Campaign Act:
    • 1. Tightened reporting requirements for contributions
    • 2. Limited overall expenditures
    • Challenged in 1976 in Buckley V. Valeo
    • Supreme Court struck down as a violation of free speech, the portion of the act that limited the amount individuals could contribute to their own campaigns
    • Soft Money: money raised for campaigns (not subject to any contribution limits)

McCain-Feingold Act

  • Banned soft money contributions
  • Increased amount that individuals could give to candidates from $1000 to $2000 and can rise with inflation
  • Barred groups from running “issue ads” within 60 days of a general election if they refer to a federal candidate and are not funded by a PAC

Money and Campaigning

  • The Proliferation of PACs
    • Political Action Committees (PACs): created by law in 1974 to allow corporations, labor unions and other interest groups to donate money to campaigns; PACs are registered with and monitored by the FEC.
    • As of 2006 there were 4,217 PACs.
    • PACs contributed over $372.1 million to congressional candidates in 2006.
    • PACs donate to candidates who support their issue.
    • PACs do not “buy” candidates, but give to candidates who support them in the first place.

Political Action Committees

  • Loopholes with PACs
  • Any interest group can now get into the act by forming its own PAC to directly channel contributions of up to $5000 per candidate in both the primary and general election

Money and Campaigning

Buckley V. Valeo

  • Extends right of free speech to PACs and can now spend unlimited amounts indirectly, that is, if such activists are not coordinated with the campaign
  • Plays a major role in paying for expensive campaigns

Effects of Campaigns

  • Reinforcement
  • Activation
  • Conversion
  • Given the billions of
  • dollars spent on campaigns, it may be surprising to find that they do not have a great effect

The Impact of Campaigns

  • Campaigns have three effects on voters:
    • Reinforcement, Activation, Conversion
  • Several factors weaken campaigns’ impact on voters:
    • Selective perception: pay most attention to things we agree with
    • Party identification still influence voting behavior
    • Incumbents begin with sizeable advantage

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

  • http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2008/2008_08_205
  • By a 5-to-4 vote along ideological lines, the majority held that under the First Amendment corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited.
  • The majority maintained that political speech is indispensable to a democracy, which is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation. The majority also held that the BCRA's disclosure requirements as applied to The Movie were constitutional, reasoning that disclosure is justified by a "governmental interest" in providing the "electorate with information" about election-related spending resources. The Court also upheld the disclosure requirements for political advertising sponsors and it upheld the ban on direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions.

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