Tuesday, October 18, 2016

ch. 5 | Campaigns and Elections

conducting campaigns in the 21st century
  • importance of the media:
-independent candidate: candidate who runs in general election w/o party endorsement or selection
-sound bite: brief statement of candidate's theme communicated by radio/tv in a few seconds
-tv ads allow candidates to structure messages carefully & avoid risk of misstatement
-more money a campaign has, less interest in debating an opponent
-candidates rely on social media to communicate w voters
  • mud slide campaigns:
-suggests reaction of citizens who were disappointed by candidates' low ethical level of campaigning & avoidance of critical public issues 
-character became more important --> more negative campaigning 

campaign reform
  • eliminating negative campaigning:
-focuses on things other than basic issues & candidate personalities that relate to leadership potential
  • increasing free media access:
-television is most important & most expensive communication tool
-Campaign Legal Center supports media access reform
-candidates regularly use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. to campaign

campaign finance
-candidates need to raise large amounts of cash at local, state, and national levels
-political action committees (PACs): organizational device used by corporations, labor unions, and other organizations to raise money for campaign contributions
-in return for their contributions, big donors receive access to elected officials 
-Texas Ethics Commission: state agency that enforces state standards for lobbyists & public officials
-Campaign Reform Act: 2002, restricts donations of "soft &hard money" for election campaigns
-soft money: unregulated political donations made to national political parties or independent expenditures on behalf of a candidate
-hard money: campaign money donated directly to candidates or political parties & restricted in amount by federal law 
-independent expenditures: pay for political campaign communications that expressly advocate the nomination, election, or defeat of a clearly identified candidate but are not given to, or made at the request of, the candidate's campaign 
-super PAC: independent expenditure-only committees that may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, nonprofit organizations, & individuals 

racial & ethnic politics
-Texas is a majority-minority state: Latinos & African Americans = more than half of population
-more likely to vote for Democratic candidates but Republican candidates fare better among Latino voters in TX than nationally
-issues: bilingual educations, political representation, immigration reform
-voting behavior indicates responses to candidates & issues, not to particular party 
-size of Latino population causes politicians to solicit their support 
African Americans:
-tend to identify w Democratic party
-10% of state's potential voters 

women in politics
-expanded presence of women in public office changes public policy 
-fewer women than men seek elective public office 
-parental obligations & age-old prejudices make it harder for women to be work in government

  • obstacles to voting:
-universal suffrage: voting is open for virtually all persons 18+ years old 
-voter registration: qualified voter must register w county voting registrar who compiles lists of qualified voters residing in each voting precinct 
-literacy tests: intended to prevent African Americans & Latinos from voting 
-grandfather clause: exempted people from educational, property, or tax requirements for voting if they were qualified to vote before 1867 or were descendants of such persons 
-poll tax: failure to pay annual tax made a citizen ineligible to vote in party primaries or in elections
-all white primaries: prevented African Americans & some Latinos from participating in Democratic primaries from 1923-1944
-racial gerrymandering: drawing legislative district lines to underrepresent persons of certain races 
-diluting minority votes: creation of at-large majority districts (each electing two or more representatives) dilutes the votes of minority group when combined w majority group

Democratization of the ballot
  • federal voting rights legislation
Voting Rights Act of 1965:
-abolishes use of literacy tests in voter registration
-prohibits residency requirements of 30+ days for voting in presidential elections
-requires states to provide absentee or early voting 
-allows individuals to sue in federal court to request voting examiners be sent to particular area
-bilingual ballots & bilingual oral assistance 
motor-voter law (National Voter Registration Act): requires certain government offices to offer voter registration applications to clients 
  • voter turnout: percentage of voting-age population casting ballots in an election
-Texa's lower voter turnout rates can be explained by lower percentage of eligible voters in the state (citizenship status, convicted felon who has not completed serving sentence, cultural, socioeconomic, & ethnic/racial factors)
-as educational level rises, so does likelihood of voting 

administering elections
-Texas Election Code: body of state law concerning parties, primaries, & elections 
  • qualifications for voting:
-native-born or naturalized citizen of U.S.
-18+ years old 
-resident of state & county for at least 30 days immediately preceding
-resident of area covered by the election
-registered voter for at least 30 days immediately preceding 
-not be a convicted felon (unless sentence/probation/parole are completed)
-not be declared mentally incompetent by court of law
  • voting early:
-early voting ends 4 days before any election or primary 
-can be in-person, voting by mail, machine voting (for military personnel)
  • voting precincts: basic geographic area for conducting primaries & elections
  • election officials: 
-various county & political party officials administer federal, state, & county elections
-elections administrator: person appointed to supervise voter registration & voting 
-election judge: official appointed by county commissioners court to administer an election in a voting precinct 
  • voting systems:
-paper ballot: cheap, easy; counting is slow & error-prone
-optical scan (like a Scantron): expensive to purchase & store
-direct recording electronic (touch screen): expensive to purchase & store

primary, general, & special elections
  • primaries: preliminary election conducted w/in party to select candidates who will run for public office in subsequent general election
-direct primary: nominating system that allows voters to participate directly in the selection of candidates to public office 
-runoff primary: held after the first primary to allow party members to choose a candidate from the first primary's top 2 vote-getters
-closed primary: voters must declare their support for a party before they are permitted to participate in the selection of candidates 
-open primary: voters are not required to declare party identification
-jungle primary: voters indicate preferences by using single ballot w names of candidates of all parties 
  • general elections: determine which candidates will fill government offices
-candidate who receives a plurality in a contest is the winner 
-off-year or midterm election: held in the even-numbered year following a presidential election 
-special election: called by governor to fill a vacancy or to vote on proposed state constitutional amendment or local bond issue 

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