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Mini - Quiz

How much do you know about minor/third parties?


1. How many ‘electoral’ political
parties are there in the USA?
(i.e. political parties that regularly run
candidates in elections)
2. How many political parties have
over 100,000 registered voters?
3. Name a right wing political party.
4. Name a centrist political party.
5. Name a left wing political party.
6. Name an ethnic-nationalism
political party.
7. Name a single issue political
party.
8. Name a state-only political party.
Enquiry Question: How successful are minor
parties?
Learning Outcomes
• To identify and explain the factors which limit
success of minor parties
• To analyse the impact they have had in state and
national politics, particularly in congressional and
presidential elections
• The USA has a system in which two major parties secure the vast majority of the
vote during public elections and thus dominate nearly every elected post.
• In the USA, the political landscape has come to be dominated by the Republicans
and the Democrats who, between them, control both the legislature and executive
branch of government.

Watch the video clip!


Despite the failure to achieve significant electoral successes, minor
parties can still have an indirect impact on the US political system.

They can:
• Achieve success at a local level,
securing victory in local or even
state-based elections.
• Shape the political agenda with
their national success, and media
profile, pushing certain issues
towards the forefront of elections,
as with Ross Perot in 1992.
• Have an indirect impact on the
eventual outcome of the election,
thereby taking votes away from
either of the main two parties,
which could shape the outcome of
the election, as with Ralph Nader
in 2000.
Why do minor parties have
limited success?
• Third parties face many obstacles in the United States. In all
states, the Democratic and Republican candidates
automatically get on the ballot, whereas third-party
candidates usually have to get thousands of signatures on
petitions just to be listed on the ballot.
• The state and federal governments, which make rules
governing elections, are composed of elected Democratic
and Republican officials, who have a strong incentive to
protect the existing duopoly.
• Also, third-party candidates often face financial difficulties
because a party must have received at least 5% of the vote
in the previous election in order to qualify for federal funds.
Coke vs Pepsi
• The two political parties are a lot like the two giants of the cola
world, Coke and Pepsi.
• Although each wants to win, they both recognize that it is in their
mutual interest to keep a third cola from gaining significant
market share.
• Coke and Pepsi, many people have argued, conspire to keep any
competitor from gaining ground.
• For example, in supermarkets, cola displays at the end of the
aisles are often given over to Coke for six months of the year and
Pepsi for the other six.
• Competitors such as Schweppes and supermarket own brands
face an extremely difficult challenge.
• The Democrats and the Republicans function in much the same
way.
Party Dates Success(es)

Anti-Masonic
1828–1832 First party to hold a convention to nominate candidates
Party

Prohibition Has nominated a candidate for president in every election


1867–present
Party since 1872

Elected a number of candidates to state legislatures,


Progressive Congress, and even the U.S. Senate. Deflected enough
1912
Party votes from Republican William Howard Taft to hand the
presidency to Democrat Woodrow Wilson in 1912.

American
Independent 1968–present Won electoral votes (for George Wallace)
Party

Libertarian
1971–present Some members have won local elections.
Party

Green Party 1984–present Some members have won local elections.


Why do minor parties
appeal to people?
Ideology:
People who feel strongly about a particular issue might be drawn to a third
party that focuses exclusively on that issue.
Example: The Greenback Party focused on the monetary system, and the
Prohibition Party sought to ban the consumption of alcohol. The Populist
Party, meanwhile, grew out of the Populist movement, and the Republican
Party developed primarily out of the abolitionist movement.
Dissatisfaction with the status quo:
Some third parties form when part of a major party breaks off in protest
and forms a splinter party.
Example: In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt led a group of dissidents out of the
Republican Party to form the splinter Progressive Party.
Geographical location: Third parties can be closely tied to a specific
region, which can increase their appeal.
Example: Chicago’s Harold Washington Party, for example, seeks to carry
on the legacy of Harold Washington, the city’s first African American
mayor.
Charismatic
leaders?

http://edition.cn
n.com/2013/06/1
0/us/ross-perot-
fast-
facts/index.html

Some people join third parties because of the charismatic personality of the party’s candidate. If
the leader leaves the party, however, the party often collapses, which is what happened to the
Reform Party in the mid-1990s. Founded by Ross Perot after his first presidential bid in 1992, the
Reform Party served as Perot’s base for his 1996 campaign. After Perot decided not to run again,
however, the Reform Party’s political clout declined dramatically. In 2000, the party split in two
over the candidacy of former Republican Pat Buchanan. Neither Buchanan nor his Reform Party
rival gained many votes, and the party has largely disappeared from the national stage.
The Role of Third Parties
What impact do they have?
Introduce new ideas: Third parties propose many
government policies and practices.
Example: The Populist Party introduced ideas that
influenced some economic policies of the New Deal,
whereas the Anti-Masonic Party was the first party to
use a convention to nominate its candidates, in the
mid-nineteenth century.
Put issues on the agenda: Third parties can force the
major parties to address potentially divisive problems.
Example: In 1992, neither Bill Clinton nor George H. W.
Bush talked much about the budget deficit until
independent candidate Ross Perot emphasized it in his
campaign.
The Role of Third Parties
What impact do they have?
Spoil the election: Third parties can cost one party an election by
playing the spoiler. If a third party draws enough votes away from
a major party, it can prevent that party from winning. It is
impossible to know for sure what would have happened had the
third-party candidate not run, but in some cases, it seems that the
third party probably cost one candidate the election.
Example: Some pundits argued that Ralph Nader’s bid in the 2000
presidential election may have cost Al Gore the presidency by
siphoning away votes in key states such as Florida.
Keep the major parties honest: A leftist party can challenge the
Democratic Party, for example, on social justice issues, whereas a
conservative party can pose problems for the Republican Party.
Because third-party candidates usually have little chance of
winning, they can speak more frankly than their major party rivals,
addressing facts and issues that the major parties would often
prefer to ignore.
Learning Outcomes
• To identify and explain the factors which limit
success of minor parties
• To analyse the impact they have had in state and
national politics, particularly in congressional and
presidential elections
Third Parties in the 2016 Presidential Election
Research Task
Impact of Third Parties
Aims: YOUR TASK:
• To research and analyse • Read the example
the impact of third provided for you on the
parties in congressional impact of third parties
elections since 1992
on presidential
• To research and analyse elections.
the impact of third
parties in state • Consider how best to
elections (including format and layout your
governorships and state research.
legislature elections) • Divide up roles and
since 1992
responsibilities.
Research Task
Feedback
Evidence of impact Analysis of impact
• What evidence is • What effect do third
there of third parties parties have an
having an impact on elections?
congressional
elections? • How successful are
• What evidence is third parties?
there of third parties • What limits the
having an impact on success of third
state elections? parties?
Learning Outcomes
• To identify and explain the factors which limit
success of minor parties
• To analyse the impact they have had in state and
national politics, particularly in congressional and
presidential elections
How much has there been a revival of political
parties in the USA? (45)
How much has there been a revival of political
parties in the USA? (45)
How much has there been a revival of political
parties in the USA? (45)
Homework
Application Task:
How much has there been a revival of political
parties in the USA? (45)
Flipped Learning Preparation Task:
Third Parties (Bennett, p138-142)
Stretch & Challenge Task:
Article: The U.S. has more third-party candidates
than it’s seen in a century. Why?