When do presidential elections occur?
every 4 years, even after the death of a president

e.g. Johnson ( vice president) took over Kennedy in 1963 after his assassination

Phases of the presidential election
intra-party battles:
1) invisible primary- candidates announce they are running around a year before election
2) Primaries- January-June
3) running mates chosen – July/August
4) National Party Convention- August-early september, lasting 3 to 4 days
inter-party battle
5) General election campaign, september, october, first week of November
6) General election day- tuesday after the first monday in November
7) Electoral college- Monday after the second wednesday in December
What do you need in order to be able to run for presidency?
constitutional requirements and extra-constitutional requirements
constitutional requirements for presidency
1) natural born american citizen- much debate around this over Obama’s legitimacy
2) must be at least 35 years old- youngest was Theodore Roosevelt (only 42 when he became president in 1901)
3) residency qualification of 14 years
1951 constitutional amendment on presidential term limits
president limited to 2 terms- Eisenhower first to feel this effect in 1960
extra constitutional requirements to be pres: 1) Political experience
pools of recruitment for presidency
1) Senate- Obama- Illinois 2012
2) Vice-president- Johnson 1963
3) state governors- Jimmy Carter, Georgia, 1977

of the 11 Republican candidates in 2012- only one wasn’t a former senator, vice president or state governor- Herman Cain- businessman
– suggests political experience is important
– in 2008- Obama beat Hillary Clinton when Clinton had had 8 years as first lady and 7 years in the Senate, whilst Obama had only 3 years in senate

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extra constitutional requirements to be president: 2) Major Party Endorsement
it is vital to be chosen as the candidate for one of the two major parties
as is demonstrated by the failure of third party candidates such as Ross Perot 1992 and Pat Buchanan 2000
extra constitutional requirements to be pres: 3) Personality characteristics
Until 2004- all major party presidential candidates had been white males
2008- iconic in that it came down to a democrat candidate struggle between a white woman and a black man- Hillary and Obama

advantage to be married- only one bachelor president, James Buchanan- elected in 1857

extra constitutional requirements to be pres: 4) ability to raise large sums of money
money- seems to be integral to success in elections- this is partly why candidates announce they are running so early- to give them time to build up a war chest- Obama had already raised $125.2 million by december 2011-
extra constitutional requirements to be press: 5) Effective organisation
candidates unlike in the UK cannot be endorsed by the major parties- it is up to the candidate to organise their campaign- much of the reason for Romney’s impressive victory (46% of the vote to Gingrich’s 32%) in Florida primary, Jan 21st 2012 was due to his superior fundraising and organisation in comparison to his rival Newt Gringrich- for example-Romney put out 13,000 TV ads. Gingrich had around 200.
extra constitutional requirements to be press: 6) Oratorical skills and telegenic
In media age- being able to sound and look good are crucial- tv debates are an integral part of the election process- important to make a good impression on public- Reagan had been a hollywood actor
telegenic looks- Bill Clinton
Obama’s second-to-none rhetoric- ability to persuade- yes we can slogan
extra constitutional requirements to be pres : 7) Sound and Relevant policies
not all about style, need substance
Bill Clinton, 1992- economy
McCain, 2000- campaign finance reform
Obama- 2008- tax reform
What is The Invisible Primary
Period between candidates announcement in spring and the first primaries in the February of the following year
1) announcement of candidacy
2) increasing name recognition
3) money-raising
4) organisation
5) intra-party debates
Formal events at invisible primary
May to June 2011- 16 Republican intra-party TV debates

November 2011- Rick Perry forgot the third executive department he would close down- would later end his campaign after receiving only 1% of the vote in the NH primary

annual Jefferson-Jackson day dinners- opportunity for candidates to improve name recognition- 2011- Obama delivers impressive speech- boosted his campaign

books written by presidential candidates to aid status in presidential bid
the Audacity of Hope- Obama 2008

Mitt Romney published his No apology book 2 years ahead of the 2012 election, in 2010

Fundraising- invisible primary
accumulating a large enough ‘war chest’

1999- Elizabeth Dole ended her campaign claiming she simply could not raise enough money

Mitt Romney outraised more than his opponents Rick Perry and Ron Paul alltogether by December 2011- with his $56.1 million

*HOWEVER- RICK SANTORUM’S SUCCESS could counter the importance of funding- modest funding yet significant success*

by december 2011- raised a mere 1.2 million and yet proceeded to beat Romney in Iowa
– followed by a surge in national polls
6th March 2012- super tuesday- Santorum wins 3 states, comes second in 5- big wins in South as well

Another clear example- how Jeb Bush and Ben Carson dramatically outspent Donald Trump and yet did remarkably bad in comparison
– as Trump himself pointed out-

e.g. by december 2015- Trump had spend a mere $200,000 on ads whilst Jeb Bush had spent $30 million

Trump was winning on the media and publicity front
*having said that, Santorum’s funds were dwindling by March* whilst Romney could continue spending lots of money- to his eventual drop out in April

Do pre- primary front-runners always go on to be successful?

2012 Romney- successful- Republican candidate front runner always successful for last 7 elections- apart from McCain


2008 McCain beat Giuliani despite mccains 15% lead in national poll dec 2007

2008- Obama beat Clinton despite her 15% lead

2004- John Kerry beat Howard Dean despite being 5th in national polls


Invisible Primary is important? YES
1) critical for name recognition- Romney publishes his book 2 years before 2012 election- and his speeches at the Lincoln Day Dinners
– the media- as clearly highlighted by Trumps mixed portrayal by the media- undeniably boosted his campaign
2) IP important indicator of a candidates ability to maintain popularity and momentum- Scott Walkers plummet in opinion polls to 0.5% despite entering the race just 70 days before as a front runner, with praise from the Koch brothers- drop in polls had led to drop in funding
– important for weeding out ineffective candidates
3) important for raising funds- Obama raised 125 million by december 2011
Romney raised around 60 million- more than Ron Paul and Rick Perry put together
Invisible Primary important? NO
1) inconsistent front-runner success- Howard Dean 2004 and Hillary, and Giuliani 2008
2) Money is not always vital- Rick Santorum’s success despite modest funds- Jeb Bush and Ben Carson’s failure despite huge amount of spending- contrast Trumps much more modest spending in comparison
What is the purpose of the Primary election season?
A state-based election to choose a party’s candidate for the presidency- whereby delegates are chosen to vote the states most popular candidate at the National Party Convention

– takes place between January and June of the election year

e.g. In 2012: the primary season resulted in Mitt Romney becoming the Republican presidential candidate

Intra-party battle
the competition of candidates within parties to be chosen as the representative for their party, for presidency

e.g. the competition between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton for Democrat presidential candidate in 2016

Why did the primary season develop?
1) strengthen the democratic process- limit power of the party bosses

1968- set up McGovern-Fraser Commission

PURPOSE- establish more accountability for the party elite

Introduced the delegates system

1981- Hunt Commission- recommended Super delegates- to use expertise and professional judgment to check the people.

what is a delegate?
someone who votes on behalf of their state’s chosen presidential candidate at the National Party Conventions

– tend to be committed to the vote made by their state

e.g. 99 Florida delegates will vote for Trump at the Republican’s NPC- July 18-21 2016

National party convention
formal functions
1) choosing presidential candidate
2)choosing vice presidential candidate
3) deciding party platform
informal functions
1) promoting party unity
2) enthusing the party faithful
3) enthusing the ordinary voters
Open primary
a primary election in which any registered voter can vote in the primary of either party- can result in ‘crossover- voting’

An example of this approach is the “Operation Chaos” gambit that Rush Limbaugh proposed during the 2008 presidential primary. By encouraging Republican voters in states with open primaries to cross party lines to vote for Hillary Clinton, Limbaugh argued that the GOP would slow the momentum of a surging Barack Obama. To an extent, his strategy worked. According to a Huffington Post article from March of that year, “approximately 25% of Clinton’s voters in Mississippi were Republicans voting for a candidate they hate in order to try to undermine Barack Obama … [otherwise] Obama would have easily expanded his delegate win there from 19-14 to 24-9.” Similar results were reported in Texas and Ohio.

closed primary
a primary election in which only registered democrats can vote in the democratic primary and only registered republicans can vote in the republican primary
a state-based series of meetings (rather than election) for the selection of a party’s candidate for the presidency- held in a few geographically large but thinly populated states- thus attracting unrepresentative and low turnouts

– in some caucuses- support for a candidate is indicated through voters grouping themselves together in community schools or halls

e.g. Iowa traditionally holds first caucus: Cruz won it 1st of Feb 2016, and Hillary won it
13 states have caucuses in 2016

e.g. 2012- 12 states held Republican primaries

criticisms of caucuses
1) *too time consuming* repels voters- not everyone is able to come and spend a whole day debating the candidate- hence why *turnout is consistently low- often around 10%*
2) low turnout results in votes *unrepresentative of the state*- Iowa’s turnout on Feb 1st 2016 was only 15% and this was a dramatic improvement from the 2012 turnout

– 2008: despite the caucuses reaching record turnout- they on average attracted fewer than a fourth of the participants of a primary election- undemocratic to continue using a clearly unpopular system

– Iowa- 16%, compared with New Hampshire- 53% in 2008

3) those who do vote tend to be more committed party members- more ideological- and thus the vote gets distorted to the extreme- and often fails to reflect views of the ordinary voter-those 10 percent who do turn out tend to be the most ideological and hyperpartisan—meaning that the winner of a caucus is increasingly a bad barometer of who might actually carry the state in a general election by being able to win over independents and centrist swing voters- explains why Rick Santorum won Iowa caucus in 2012 despite being very low in the polls in December 2011- he would go on to do badly in the primaries.

4) Democratic caucus rules in Iowa violate what many consider one of the most important aspects of voting in modern America, the secret ballot.

defending the caucus system
1) some might argue that a smaller group of politically engaged voters is a more effective way in selecting a candidate than a larger group of possibly ignorant and uneducated voters

2) whilst time consuming- caucuses are an effective way to increase the quality of political participation in the US- as the caucuses feature debate and discussion- much needed peer review- participation beyond that of just voting.

Open primaries advantages
1) clearly more democratic- attract higher turnouts than closed primaries- enable more than just the party affiliated or committed members to vote- in this way the result becomes more representative of the wider public- increases political participation

2012- 11 states held open primaries and 10 saw an increase in turnout from 2008
Wisconsin- up 92%
Mississipi- up 105%

contrast- closed primary states only saw 2 states with increase in turnout

2) *not just about how many people are voting- but who is voting*- enables the *inclusion of voters who do not affiliate with a party*- the centrists, the swing vote- the candidate nomination becomes more likely to win over independents or swing voters- important given the independent voter base is growing- now said to be around 40%, whilst party affiliated- 60%

3) This in turn promotes more moderate candidates rather than those positioned within the ideological extreme- help reduce polarisation and aid bipartisanship- demands both voters and candidates to assess more the political situation rather than simply position themselves on the political extremes

4) allows for democrats and republicans to have made some democratic decision in the presidential election process even if the opponent wins- for example some Republicans may have voted for Obama as he is their preferred candidate out of the democrats

Open primaries disadvantages
1) *manipulation of the vote through cross-over voting* whereby an individual affiliated with one party votes in the primary of another party- this in turn enables party-crashing: voting for the express purpose of supporting the candidate they feel will be easier to defeat in the general election;

-An example of this approach is the “Operation Chaos” gambit that Rush Limbaugh proposed during the 2008 presidential primary. By encouraging Republican voters in states with open primaries to cross party lines to vote for Hillary Clinton, Limbaugh argued that the GOP would slow the momentum of a surging Barack Obama.

– Democrats also tried to use this political sabotage
2012 Republican primaries, where many Democratic voters in Michigan voted for weaker GOP candidate Rick Santorum over front-runner Mitt Romney in order to disrupt his campaign.

( *MANY WOULD ARGUE THE RISK OF vote manipulation is too small to outweigh* the positives of increased turnout and participation in the primary- and also can never really know peoples intentions when they are voting- furthermore party raiding never really materialise significantly- as illustrated both these examples failures to deter from Obama and Romney’s nomination.)

2) According to the critics, when states allow Democrats a say in choosing a Republican candidates via open primary, for example, they are violating Republicans’ First Amendment rights- freedom of asscoiation

3) exacerbate disputes and division within the party

4) The dominance of centrist candidates in primaries may lead to convergence between the major parties to the extent that there is little difference between them for voters to choose from in the general election. This creates the harm of not presenting a clear democratic choice to voters, which can help feed the discontent with politics that the discontent hopes will be countered by Open Primaries.

Closed primary advantages and disadvantages
1) voters are often more politically committed and engaged given their membership of a party- thus results in a more educated vote

2) prevents from the other party using party raiding to distort vote


1) exclusion of independent voters- only party members = low turnout- undemocratic- right to vote- unfair to have internalised primary

2) exacerbates polarisation- whilst more politically committed- often more ideologically extreme

What is front loading?
The phenomenon by which states schedule their primary earlier on in the primary election cycle in order to increase the importance of their state in choosing major party presidential candidates

number of states holding their primaries before the end of march increased from 11 to 42 from 1980-2008

– California in 2008 moved its primary from early June 1980 to early Feb- to promote California’s choice

Consequences of Front Loading?

– positions the decisions of some states above others- Super Tuesday in 2008- 22 Democrat contests and 21 Republicans
– 55% of delegates thus chosen by the 5th of feb 2008- leaving the remaining states to simply follow suit

– this also highlights how FL results in quickening the process of presidential candidate nomination- results in many states votes becoming meaningless

– voters are forced to reach a decision about the nominee in too short an amount of time

cf battle between Mondale and Hart in 1984 took around 3 and a half months

in contrast a little more than 5 weeks after the showdown between McCain and Bush in New Hampshire, Feb 2000- McCain had announced his withdrawal- primary process becomes chaotic and less well-informed

– those candidates without the former name recognition to survive such a short intense period of front-loading often at a disadvantage

front-loading favours the well known, front runner

constant trend- 1992-2000- both the Republican and Democrat candidate leading the national poll before Iowa caucus was the same candidate leading the funding table and the same candidate who would become the eventual nominee

– front loading makes it harder for the less well known to maintain enough funding for such an intense period

Michelle Bachman dropped out the race due to this


However Clinton and Obama lost New Hampshire and still went on to be the successful candidates

Obama went on to win super tuesday in 2008- despite his lack of former name recognition

1968- set up McGovern-Fraser Commission

PURPOSE- establish more accountability for the party elite

Introduced the delegates system

BUT THE ordinary voters MADE BAD DECIISONS E.G. McGovern


1981- Hunt Commission- recommended Super delegates- to use expertise and professional judgment to check the people.

BRING A more experienced, professional perspective to the vote

2008- played a v significant role in deciding the nomination between Obama and Clinton as neither had achieved an absolute majority of delegates- it was thus the super-delegate vote which put him over the 2.210 delegate total required to win the nomination


SUPER DELEGATE CAN USE THEIR OWN JUDGEMENT- can make up their own mind despite primary result


Bill Clinton- chosen by the Arkansas State party.


proportional primaries and winner-takes-all
all of democrat primaries are proportional

some of republicans are winner-takes all
– e.g. Florida- winner takes all- Trump took all 99 delegates


point 1: LENGTH

In need of reform because
over-exposes the election to the public, resulting in apathy and boredom
– poll in 2012- only 45% of people were paying a lot of attention to the process 74 days before election
– Majority of candidates announce they are running in the spring before the election- e.g. Ted Cruz announced in March 2015- 596 days before election- compare to the UK where the Queen dissolves parliament 38 days before election day

– compare to 1960- John Kennedy announced he was running just 66 days before the first primary

– highlights the pressure of the invisible primary and the enormous strain it puts on candidates to raise enough money to survive the election Obama had raised $125 million by december 2011 and by June 2012- had increased to $300 million- not only need money to survive the 6 month invisible primary but then support yourself, travelling etc- the 50 primaries spread out from Feb to June


once must recognise the reason in part for such a long process is a good reason- as its a result of the removal of the corrupt presidential nominating process in ‘smoked filled rooms’- decided by party bosses- and a move to a decision made by the people- 1968- McGovern- Fraser Commission-

only 17 states had a primary in 1968- 1980- 36 states and by 2000- all states held primaries or caucuses

Furthermore, *the length of the process is what enables a highly effective weeding out process*

– the on average 10 month campaign puts candidates up to the required test to see if they have what it takes to be president
– a gruelling process for a gruelling job
– doesn’t enable candidates with former name recognition and funding to simply bypass the invisible primary
e.g. Scott Walker- considered a 2016 front runner with substantial funding- but by sept 2016, 70 days after his announcement for running, he faced a plummet in the polls to 0.5%, which in turn saw a lack of funding-
– his lacklustre performance in the first two Republican TV debates signalled his inability to vie for the attention of the public- necessary to weed-out those candidates who do not have the personality or people skills to be president

– as it weeds out ineffective candidates- it simultaneously enables dark horses to emerge- candidates with little name recognition at the time of their announcement- gives them time to prove themselves- highlighted by the success of Jimmy Carter- peanut farmer, Bill Clinton, Obama

– reforming the process- such as holding a one-day national primary would favour the more well known- the lesser known have little time to prove themselves


point 3: Front Loading

Front Loading- positions the importance of some states votes above others-

by 5th Feb 2008- 55% of the delegates had already been chosen- remaining status votes become wasted- follow suit

a little more than 5 weeks after the showdown between McCain and Bush in New Hampshire, Feb 2000- McCain had announced his withdrawal

– impact- many voters votes becoming meaningless
– harder for less well known candidates to prove themselves in such a small amount of time- short intense period
– front loading also heightens the pressure to raise a huge amount of money in the IP


in 2012 the rule changes by RNC- only 30 states could hold their primaries and caucuses by the end of March- with the result not yet determined because big states were still to come- California on 5th of June for e.g.

Furthermore, front-loading doesn’t always have the desired effects anyway- both Bill Clinton, Bush and Barack Obama lost New Hampshire and still went on to be successful

Obama and Clinton moreover- started out as lesser known candidates and still survived the primaries


point 2: TURNOUT

undemocratic- vote unrepresentative of the general public- notoriously low turnout

since 1996 only one election has managed to engage an average voter turnout above 25%

2012 average turnout- 17%- one might point out that 2012 being an election with an incumbent tends to engage less voters- but even in 2000 when no incumbent president was running- turnout was still only 19%

caucuses- even lower- 2008: despite the caucuses reaching record turnout- they on average attracted fewer than a fourth of the participants of a primary election

average 10%

– also some sections of society disproportionately represented in primaries over others- older, more educated- Tennessee Republican primary 2012- half the voters had a college degree, 3/4 were over 45- only 8% under 30


this is an improvement from the public’s participation in the primary election in the past
1968- 12 million- 1980- 30 million- 2008- nearly 60 million participants

and furthermore one might argue that low turnout is supplemented by the fact that most primary voters are party members who are politically engaged and educated- more deliberated

National Party Convention
Formal functions 1) choosing presidential candidate
held august/early september
1) CHOOSING THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: has become a convention- more of a confirmation and official announcement of candidate- than big reveal given in post-reform days- most delegates are ‘committed’- pre-reform- less clear who would win
2)candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes- Romney required 1,144 votes out of the 2,286 delegates
3) SO IF- no candidate gains an absolute majority, balloting continues until one candidate does- in which case delegates become free agents and are no longer committed to vote for a certain candidate

HOWEVER- in the past 15 presidential elections there have been no times where this was the case
– this function now performed by primaries

contrast to the 15 elections between 1896 and 1952 where 1st ballot failed 8 times

not since 1976 has the results of a national party convention been in any sort of doubt- Ford defeated Reagan by 60 delegate votes

Open race 2016
Obama finishing his second term- presidential limit of 2 terms- 22nd amendment

Open race: no incumbent president- possibly no incumbent vice president
like in 2008
– exciting

Primary system reform
Is the current system better than the process back in the 1950s and 1960s when party bosses virtually ‘handpicked’ candidates in smoked-filled rooms?
pre-reform presidential nomination system problems
1) up to and including 1968- few states held presidential primaries- and the results of these primaries essentially didn’t matter
2) delegates chosen in party members and officials’ caucuses and state party conventions
3) at national party convention- party bosses would virtually dictate who the delegates would vote for- nomination in the hands of a powerful elite of state governors, big city mayors, state party chairmen- undemocratic and unrepresentative of grassroots party or ordinary voters-
4) lack of ordinary voters participation
5) limited choice of candidates- only major political figures could hope to be nominated
1968 primary election fiasco
grassroots democrats vote for McCarthy- anti- Vietnam war candidate- he wins just shy of 40% of the primary vote


party bosses wanted Vice President Humphrey as their candidate- supported Vietnam- and chose him despite his lack of effort with primaries and winning only 2% of the vote

– he went on to lose against Nixon: McCarthy supported demanded change

1968 McGovern-Fraser Commissions- reforming system
1) power of party bosses ended- nomination power shifts to the ordinary voter
2) delegates would have to be chosen in either primaries or caucuses- open to any registered voter
3) delegates had to be more representative of the nation
4) from 1972- candidates who wanted to win the nomination had to run in the primaries- now the only way to win delegates
presidential nomination reform effects
1) *more primaries*- Democrat primaries: 1968- 17——1980-36——2000-43 and 7 caucuses

2) *more voters taking part in the process*- more democratic- more ordinary political participation- nomination becomes much more representative of wider opinion- 1968- 12 million- 1980- 30 million- 2008- nearly 60 million

3) *more candidates*- 1968- 3 democrats and 2 republicans- 2008- 8 democrats, 7 republicans

4) *greater variety of candidates*- more candidates stand a chance of winning nomination- pre-reform- really needed to be a major political figure like Eugene McCarthy to stand a chance with party bosses- BUT NOTW- with the nomination in the hands of ordinary voters- outsider candidates stood a chance- 1976- Jimmy Carter- peanut farming governor from Georgia- Bill Clinton 1992, Obama 2008

5) *More time*- with now so many primaries squeezed into a 5 month window- candidates had to start campaigning earlier- more people to impress, more places to visit- gave way to the invisible primary

6) *More money*- directly linked- more campaigning meant more money- fundraising was replacing policy making as the prerequisite of a successful presidential bid

7) *more media*- intra-party candidate debates- fighting for airtime

Problem with new presidential nomination system
whilst democratizing the process was a good idea- has had the unintended consequence of creating an overly long- very expensive, media-dominated process
– turnout is still a very bigger problem- tend to be more ideological voters who attend- vote continues to be skewed therefore

– phenomenon of front loading exacerbated this

– the process has arguably turned into an ineffective test of how to conduct a successful presidency- does not reveal required qualities

5 possible reforms for presidential nomination system
1) National Primary Plan
2) Rotating Regional Primary Plan
3) Lottery Regional Primary Plan
4) Back-loading Plan
5) Pre-primary Mini-Convention Plan
1) National Primary Plan
a one-day national primary- fixed date- all 50 states and district of Columbia vote

*pros*: cut out the endless cycle of primaries and caucuses that now stretched for 5 months from January to June= cut down costs- travel- no state would have greater influence by being first

*cons*: it would hugely disadvantage outsider candidates like Obama, Jimmy Carter- as it would end retail politics where candidates campaign within their communities- whole nomination would be conducted on TV

2) Rotating Regional Primary Plan
recommended by NASS in 2000- states would vote in 4 regions- south, Midwest, west and east- alternate who goes first and would maintain preferential status of Iowa and New Hampshire

– one region a month- feb, march, april, may, june

*pros*: stop frontloading and in turn reduce the pressure for candidates in the invisible primary- reduce cost, fairer for lesser known candidates- gives them more time- allowing dark-horses to become front runners
– reduces travelling costs to one region a month
– it extends the period during which the competitive race would last- currently we essentially know who the winner is before many states have even had their primary

*cons*: it preserves the tradition of unrepresentative states going first- NH and Iowa

– the candidates from first region would also benefit
– Republicans would criticize a system which would require them to start their nomination in the East or West- where their support somewhat thin

3) Lottery Regional Primary Plan
order of regions decided by lottery- drawn on new years day

– aim to restrict early campaigning significantly- reduce domination by money and media
– states with four or fewer electoral college votes would be allowed to have ‘first in the nation’ status- Alaska, Delaware, Maine

– NH retain preferential status- Iowa would lose it

4) Delaware Plan- back-loading
states grouped by population- – 4 groups- smallest-population states in first group, largest in last

*pro*: allow less well known and less well-funded candidates to compete in the small population states during March whilst sill ensuring the race would continue through to June given that over half the convention delegates would be chosen in June

5) Pre-Primary Mini-Convention Plan
focusing on re-introducing some much needed peer review- to weed out those candidates who lack caliber and suitability by 600-700 major office party holders- who vote at a mini-convention
reform likely?
no- as highlighted by failure of rotating regional primary plan- all 50 state legislatures would require unanimous agreement- too much of a radical reform
– the elder, more educated tend to vote more- Tennessee 2012- 3/4 of voters were 45 and over, 8% were under 30, half had a college degree
– *Open primaries* inevitably attract higher turnout than closed primaries
2012- 11 states held open primaries and 10 saw an increase in turnout from 2008
Wisconsin- up 92%
Mississipi- up 105%
– also inevitably attract more due to the growing base of independents- 40% identify as independent, whist 30% identify as GOP and 30% identify as Democrat
Open race- no incumbent- 2008- hot contest between Obama and Clinton- Missouri primary- 800,000 voters whilst in 2012- Obama as incumbent- unchallenged- 70,000 voters in Missouri primary
– super tuesday 2008- New Republican primary attracted 650,000 voters- february 5th- nomination undecided- votes matter
2012- when New York Republican primary was in April after Mitt Romney’s victory was obvious and most candidates had dropped out the race- turnout of 180,000

turnout changes according to how competitive and long the primaries are

– an incumbent president is challenged for the domination- turnout is significantly higher- when Carter was challenged in 1980

what is a running mate?
a presidential candidates vice presidential candidate
what is a balanced ticket?
when the presidential candidate is obliged to pick a running mate, they are advised to pick someone who will widen the appeal of their becoming president

– choosing someone who’s qualities supplements the presidential candidates weakness

e.g. Obama chose Joe Biden to balance his tickets with his image as an older congressional veteran well-versed in foreign and defence issues

e.g. much debate over Hillary Clinton’s running-mate

given the strong challenge from Bernie Sanders- possible that Clinton will choose a more liberal candidate- supplement her more moderate stance

– thus why Brown of Ohio was considered- blue-collar, liberal persona

*ALSO OHIO- swing state*

OR perhaps Julian Castro- rising Latino star in the Democrat party

A ticket featuring a woman and Latino would almost certainly prompt stronger interest in the Democrats’ campaign.

modern-day convention bounce
bounce declining- arguably due to increasingly partisan nature of politics-TV speeches less likely to impress public when the majority are set in their views
National Party Conventions INFORMAL FUNCTIONS
1) *promoting party unity*- most important- opportunity to solve party conflicts- in order to strengthen its appeal to the public- particularly when the primaries can turn into bitter personal battles

*Bill Clinton and Hillary support Obama* at democratic convention in 2008

– Hillary’s supportive speech “Barack Obama is my candidate and he must be our president”

– importance of promoting party unity highlighted by the impact of party disunity

-unfriendly rivalry between H.W. Bush and Buchanan 1992 Republican convention and Carter and Edward Kennedy in 1980- both Bush and Carter were defeated later in the year

2008- Paul Ryan refused to endorse McCain

2) *Enthusing ordinary voters*
– first time many people will see the presidential candidate as most people don’t pay attention to the primaries- golden opportunity for candidate to connect via television
– the importance of the *acceptance speech*- final night of the NPC-

Obama’s speech 2012 “the path we offer may be harder but it leads to a better place”

*BOUNCE*- record bounce post-convention since 1972 was Bill Clinton’s +16 bounce

Romney’s bounce of -1 in 2012 reflected his lack-lustre performance at the convention

“It’s not that Romney gave a bad speech; it’s that it was a remarkably unmemorable one”- said guardian journalist in 2012

*BUT TV COVERAGE OF DEBATES HAVE REDUCED SIGNIFICANTLY*- 1968- ABC, CBS, NBS- put out 46 hours of coverage at the 1968 Republican convention

2012- only nine hours of Republican convention

2008 *however*- more people watched Obama’s convention than finale of American idol/opening ceremony of Beijing olympics
– yet 2008 Washington post news poll had revealed before the convention that 71% of respondents regarded the convention ‘less important’ in helping them decide who’d they’d vote for president in November 2008

3) *enthusing the party base*- vital that the party across the 50 states remains committed to to getting their candidate into the oval office

Bill Clinton’s endorsement of Obama in 2012- got delegates to their feet- enthused the party faithful to return to their states to work for Obama’s re-election.

The DNC AND RNC- are on the only institutions of party structure- each has a chair- DNC chair from Jan 2013- Debbie Wasserman

2016- RNC and DNC- 4 days in July

1) *choosing presidential candidate*
– candidate must receive absolute majority
– now we have pledged delegates since the McGovern Fraser commission 1968- the convention *confirms* candidate rather than chooses- not since Reagan and Ford in 1976 has there been really any doubt of the presidential candidate at the NPC

– no candidate has an absolute majority of delegates
– delegates no longer required to be pledged
– balloting continues until one candidate does

*since 1952 no brokered convention*

2) *choosing vice presidential candidate*

– a function that the modern-day convention has lost- as presidents now announce running mate before the convention
– Walter Mondale broke tradition in 1984 when he announced his running mate Ferraro- 4 days before convention
– from 1996- both parties were announcing before convention
– e.g. John Kerry announced Edwards as his running mate 3 weeks before convention in 2004

cf past There will be none of the drama of the 1960 Democratic convention when John F. Kennedy unexpectedly chose Lyndon B. Johnson as his running mate

– In Detroit, in 1980, the carefully managed Reagan campaign kept the convention and the nation in a long night of suspense with the vice presidential selection.3) * deciding the party platform*

document containing policies that the candidate intends to pursue if elected president- put together by the platform committee under parties national committee’s direction

-6 months prior- hearings and communication facilities are set up to enable the public to help shape the platform

– 2008- 1,600 ‘listening sessions’ held by democrats
– Republicans invite visitors to their website to get in touch, participate in polls to shape policies

*BUT*- platforms are not regarded as very important- in the first place they are written before the convention

and tend to be general, vague promises to supporting the American Dream

“we believe in restoring the basic values that made our country great”- democrats 2012

“The American dream is not a stale slogan. It is the lived reality that expresses the aspiration of all our people”
– Republicans 2012

In 1996, for instance, Bob Dole famously declared that he didn’t even read the GOP platform after the party rejected his proposal to insert a “declaration of tolerance” in place of the anti-abortion plank.

What is the Electoral College?
the institution established by the Founding fathers to elect the president- final stage of the presidential election process
why did the founding fathers create the electoral college?
Wanted the president indirectly elected by electoral college electors, due to the ultimately fear of giving too much power to the people

James Madison worried about what he called “factions,” which he defined as groups of citizens who have a common interest in some proposal that would either violate the rights of other citizens or would harm the nation as a whole.

Madison’s fear – which Alexis de Tocqueville later dubbed “the tyranny of the majority” – was that a faction could grow to encompass more than 50 percent of the population, at which point it could “sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens.”

how are electoral college votes allocated?
ECV’s are allocated according to the state’s representation in congress so

2 senators + number of representatives


California in 2012 had 2 + 53 = 55 EVCs

Wyoming has 2 + 1 = 3 EVCs

how can you win the presidency?
to win presidency- you need absolute majority- 270 out of the 538 ECVs

– In all states- ECVs awarded by a simple plurality system- ‘winner takes all’

^ *not in the constitution however- winner takes all is purely a convention*
– law in 48/50 states

in Ohio 2012 for example- Obama won around 50% of the vote and Romney won 47%- Obama won 18 ECVs and Romney won 0

What is the Maine and Nebraska system?
the congressional district system

– electoral votes awarded for each congressional district that the candidate wins

– the two electoral votes from Senate representation are awarded to the state-wide winner

in 2008 in Nebraska- McCain won 4 EVCs and Obama won 1
– McCain won 2 of the congressional districts and Obama won 1

McCain received the remaining 2 EVCs

who are the electors
members of the EC who meet in their respective state capitals on the monday after the second wednesday in December- send results to vice-president who counts votes and announces winner

– only a formality

who are faithless electors?
some states do not have laws requiring electors to cast ballots for the state-wide popular vote winner- allowing possibility of ‘faithless’ electors

e.g. 2004 10 Minnesota electors voted for Edwards instead of Kerry

If no candidate wins majority of ECVs what happens?
House of representative elects president

absolute majority needed 26/50 votes

vice president voted for by the Senate 51/100 needed

why does the FPTP system create swing states?
the FPTP system, winner takes all

– so only takes one vote for a candidate to win a state- can easily go either way

– states such as…
– Ohio- particularly important- said not to lean too much to either Republican or Democrat
– Florida
– Colorado

states which do not align decisivley with either Republicans or Democrats

– potential to go either way

In 2012, President Obama won key battlegrounds such as Ohio, Florida, and Virginia, which Al Gore lost to George W. Bush in the razor-thin election of 2000

Virginia, with 13 votes, is another toss-up. It went with Bush in 2004, and Obama in both 2008 and 2012, when he received 51.2% of the state’s vote against Romney’s 47.3%.

There’s said to be 7 main battleground states

1) Colorado
2) Florida
3) Virginia
4) Iowa
5) New Hampshire
6) Nevada
7) Iowa

What’s the impact of having relatively few swing states?

2016’s most valuable voters article ^^^

1) A small number of swing states are essentially the deciders of the presidential election
2) Presidential candidates spend a lot of time focusing on a few states- Obama and Romney visited Ohio 35 times between May and the election day in 2012

– 27 out of the 29 past elections have seen Ohio pick the eventual winner

*number of swing states is decreasing with the increase of polarisation i America*

12 states decided by 5 points or less in 2000

4 states decided by 5 points or less in 2012

including Ohio won by Obama by 5 points in 2008

When Jimmy Carter defeated President Gerald Ford in 1976, every big state was competitive: California, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois and Ohio all had at least 25 electoral votes, and each one was decided by less than five points

In the current Electoral College battlefield, 40 of 50 states have voted for the same candidate in all four elections since 2000.

What was the significance of the 2000 election? It indicated how the EC system can result in the winner of the popular vote losing the ECV.
IN 2000: Al Gore won the *popular vote*


*Bush* won the *Electoral College*

*Al Gore won 48.4%* of the popular vote to *Bush’s 47.9%*



^ only other times this has happened is late 1876 and 1888


e.g. 1968- *Humphrey was only 0.5% behind Nixon* in the popular vote and yet lost the ECV by a huge 110 votes

Why does the Electoral College frequently distort the result in favour of the winning candidate?
As the EC system is a *winner-takes-all system*- it distorts the result in favour of the winning candidate

* 1996- Bill Clinton’s 49% of the popular vote was translated into 70% of ECV*

*2012- Obama’s 51% of the popular vote was translated into nearly 62% of the ECV*





Ensures winner has a good distribution of support across the nation

1) *The winner-takes-all system suppresses the popular will*

– *it distorts the result in favour of the winning candidate- disproportionate representation*
– Bill Clinton won 49% of the popular vote in 1966 and yet won 70% of the ECV
– In 2000 election- Al Gore lost Florida to Bush by a mere 535 votes- yet Bush won all 25 ECV

– *it can even result in the national popular vote winner, losing the EC*

– 2000, Al Gore wins 48.4% of national vote, and Bush wins 47.9%- yet Al Gore lost the ECV by 5 votes

*A National Popular Vote would result in a stronger, more democratic representative democracy- where the results are directly proportional to popular will*

HOWEVER- *it ensures the winner has won a distribution of votes across America*

the 2000 election has been an anomoly amongst all elections since 1888 where the winner of the national popular vote wins the ECV

– furthermore, Al Gore had only won the popular vote by 0.5%
– thus it seems better that Bush have greater support across the states than have an exact majority of the popular vote
– Bush won 29 states to Al Gore’s 21

– Obama had to win both the city swing states of Ohio and Michigan- as well as Nevada and Colorado

*a national popular vote would lack distribution across the whole nation- concentrated population of big urban states would dominate*

– having to win across the nation gives the president greater legitimacy- forced to appreciate the varying interests across the nation

*this in turn gives the President the required mandate to fulfil his/her policies-






*The electoral college system disproportionately represents smaller states*

California has 55 ECV representing 37 million inhabitants

Wyoming has 3 electoral college votes representing 500,000 members


for every 185,000 people- Wyoming gets one vote, whilst California gets one vote for every 675,000 people


*this problem is outweighed by the EC system enabling an appreciation of federalism in the US*

– whilst some states may be over-represented- it preserves the voices and interests of people who in a national popular vote would be drowned out

– this is integral to a federal system and James Madison argued in the establishment of it, prevents from a tyranny of the majority





*unfair to national third parties*

the winner-takes all system that 48 out of the 50 states adopts- means smaller, third parties could win a substantial proportion of the popular vote and yet win no electoral college votes

In 1992- Ross Perot won 18.9% of the popular vote and no electoral college vote

– voters find themselves voting often for the lesser of two evils- refraining from voting who they really want when third parties are seen as spoilers- not having enough vote to win and yet taking away support from the major candidates
– voters for third parties vote at the expense of allowing their least favourite candidate get to power- third party splits the vote- as was the case for Nader/Gore supporters in 2000

– a national popular vote could allow more meaningful votes- where those who vote for third parties get their votes represented



– third parties undermine presidential mandate required to govern

Electoral college is not the problem but is how states allocate their electors
As the 2000 election reminded us, the Electoral College does make it possible for a candidate to win the popular vote and still not become president. *But that is less a product of the Electoral College and more a product of the way states apportion electors.* In every state but Maine and Nebraska, electors are awarded on a winner-take-all basis. So if a candidate wins a state by even a narrow margin, he or she wins all of the state’s electoral votes. *The winner-takes-all system is not federally mandated; states are free to allocate their electoral votes as they wish.*
Example of some states having more power than others
Super pacs spend 6 dollars per vote in Nevada
Spent under 1 cent in California

MPR research

Christie visited New Hampshire how many times?
190 to come around 6th
Trump visited New Hampshire how many times?
split-ticket voting decline reveals polarisation- give statistic
i 2004- 50 districts across the US- voted for house democrats, BUT voted for Bush for presidency

2012- only 5 districts voted democrats for house and republican for president

How does party affiliation impact voting behaviour?
in 12 out of 16 presidential elections between 1952 and 2012, the party that managed to gain the highest level of support from its own identifiers was the party that won the election

2004- 89% of identified Democrats voted for Kerry but 93% of Republicans voted for Bush

in 2008 and 2012- far more identified Democrats turned out to vote than Republicans

– impact of independent voters- in 7 of the nine elections from 1980 to 2012- the candidate who won the majority of the independent votes- won the election

how does gender impact voting behaviour?
the gender gap- men and women vote in a distinctly different fashion

women- democrat- support Roe vs. Wade 1973, lily ledbetter fair pay act 2009

Clinton’s veto of partial birth act

women alienated by Republican party- Trump- sexist remarks, Bush’s 2003 partial birth act

2000- Bush gained vote of 53% of men but only 43% on women

Gore- gained 54% women and 42% of men

2012: 56% of women voted for Obama, compared to the 44% who voted for Romney

2012- largest gender gap

how does race impact voting behaviour?

nine elections from 1980-2012

– Blacks never gave Democrats less than 83% support

– Johnson- Civil rights act 1964

2008: 95% of Blacks voted Democrat

turnout- only demographic that increased in 2012-

HISPANICS: 17% OF population

– young group- in the future- will become increasingly important

growing in population

more than 25% of population in cali, nevada, arizona, New Mexico

Hispanic vote republican for Bush increases 2000-2004 but decreases in 2008 and 2012 with obama
31% to 43%

2008- 31%

how does religion affect voting behaviour
Protestant- tend GOP

majority of their votes to GOP candidates from 1980-2012

Catholic- Irish and Italian- tend to vote democrat- but Bush won 52% of the vote

Obama won Catholic vote in 2008 and 2012

Jewish- solid Democrat

Al Gore 79%

Obama 2012- 69%- reflect obama’s first term policies toward Israel

age- voting behaviour
2012- suggests the younger you are- more likely you’ll vote democrat

Obama’s strongest support from 18-29 year olds- 60%

and Romney’s strongest support from 65 plus- 56%

wealth-voting behaviour
wealth gap narrowed

but rule of thumb- poorer vote democrat

those earning under 25,000 dollars- Obama had 28% lead

geographic region voting behaviour
democrats- no longer solid south- Nixon southern strategy

northeast- voted majority democrat between 1984 and 2008

2012- Democrats won every north-eastern state

but population in decline- decline of industry

Republicans- now solid south- Clinton and Al Gore- only region they lost in 1996 election to Dole and Kemp- despite both being southerners

in 2000 Bush won
all southern states including Gore’s home state tenessee
last 10 elections up to 2008 the candidate who wins the suburbs
wins the election


Romney won suburbs

voting behaviour- policies

– those who believed health care was most important voted Democrat 75%

= Republicans had failed to woo voters over health care

the economy- 59% of electorate said it was most important- 51% voted for Romney

perhaps because of state of economy

however- only by a 4% lead

how significant was

Obama vs Romney debate 2012?

up until 1st debate- President seemed confidently the winner

1st debate- Romney stole the show

whilst Obama- disengaged, boring and flat

John Klein, writing in The Times described it as “one of the most inept performances by a president” in a televised debate


72% of viewers thought Romney had won

whilst only 20% Obama

– gallup poll- a majority of viewers who identified as democrat, even thought Romney had won the debate

BOUNCE: cf- no bounce from convention- NOW within a week of debate leading in the polls- both Gallup and Real Clear Politics had Romney in lead

– first time he had been in lead

HOWEVER- Obama went on to win- so obviously not game-changing

how is style more important than substance in presidential campaigns?
2nd Bush-Clinton debate 1992- camera caught Bush looking at his watch – ridiculed on SNL

– Obama’s passive style criticised- not so much what he was saying but his manner

what is the VEP?
voting eligible popualtion- registered voters- not convicted felons in some states
what is VAP-
voting age population- all those 18 plus citizens- even if not registered
what is differential absentation?
disparity in turnout across social groups
what was the turnout in 2008 presidential election?
62.3 of VEPs- very low despite it being such a high-stimulus race
what was the turnout in 2012?
57.5% VEPs
what was turnout in 1996
why is turnout so low in US?
no obligation for US citizens to register to vote
what did the Moto Voter Laws of 1993 attempt to do?
enabled Americans to register when renewing their drivers license
how many americans are still not registered to vote?
about 30%
what did the Help America Vote Act of 2002 try and do?
allowed voters who believed themselves to be eligible to cast provisional ballots
give some campaigns focused on increasing turnout- have they worked?
Rock the vote since 1990

Our time- viral adverts aimed at young and minority voters

– youth turnout in both 2008-and 2012- was 50%

highest it has been since 1972

african-american turnout 2008
65%- enocuraged to vote- first black president
what states attempt to make it easier to vote by allowing registration on election day?



when does there tend to be larger turnout
when economy is wavering and there are interesting candidates

1992 and 2008

why is turnout qu low in times of peace and prosperity such as 1996- turnout only 49%
how have republicans tried to encourage turnout?
2004 Karl Rove- energise the base- bringing state-level propositions gay marriage on ballot on same day as election- get the evangelical christian vote- 4000- Ohio

socially conservative voters large turnout even in states that Kerry won such a Michigan

how have democrats attempted to increase turnout?
Obama- social networking techniques- such as dashboard to register new voters

– democrats turned out in greater numbers than Republicans

the wealthier you are the more likley
you vote

86% of those earning $75,000 voted in p elections

compared to 52% of those earning under $15,000

means US politicians tend to focus on issues most affecting those higher-income

why is african american turnout frequently low?
many states bar convicted felons from voting – disproportionately penalises african-american males

however- turnout was 65% in 2008 and in 2012 surpassed white turnout

why does abstention vary from election
– depends on whether president or congress has delivered on promises

turnout fell 2008 to 2010 by just over 20% for whites, african americans and latinos- failed promises

varies on whether a state is swing or not- more engaged voters where presidents have visited

in 2012- Romney and Obama visited Ohio 35 times

North Carolina- only 6

if a state loses its swing state status- turnout decline

e.g. New Mexico 2008-2012

2012- Colorado, Ohio, Florida, Virginia for example

lower turnout- safer seats- such as safely democrat seats illinois, cali, new york, massachusetts

what group of voters does overt ID laws in states affect?
minority populations- least likley to have ID- discourage turnout
impact of current turnout on parties?
white population in decline

= concern to republicans

what supreme court ruling in 2013 has made it easier for states to penalise certain voters?
Shelby vs. Holder

1965 voting rights act section strikes down congress’ ability to check states voting laws

although 2012- african-american turnout increased- fears not realised

how many states have new voting restrictions for the 2016 presidential election?
what type of registration is picking up bipartisan speed across states in 2016?
automatic voter registration- West Virginia, Vermont, Illinois
interestingly what states are bringing in more restrictive ID laws?
generally republican states- alabama, Georgia, Kansas
Split ticket voting- why?
1) separation of powers- different roles in government- and thus vote differently; Montana- Republican president republican house member, democrat senator and governor

2) candidate-centred politics- West Virginia- only 35% of people voters support Obama but 61% re-elected Joe Manchin- as Senator

3) want divided government?

4) issue centred politics- Iraq- discontent- little change at state level but congress in 2006 midterms was completely changed

coat tails affect- example of success and failure
1980- Reagan dragged behind him plus 33 in the House and plus 12 in the Senate

because he was a popular president

negative coatails- Clinton won in 1992 but -9 in House, 0 in Senate

– thats because the Republican vote was split between Bush senior and Ross Perot- at presidential rather than congressional level

what are salient issues?
dominant current issues- 2008- it was the economy
why are US elections so expensive?
1) scope of elections- size of the US, frequency of elections separation of powers

2) no limit on how much money you can spend

3) length of the election- need to last

4) advertisement- $4.4 billion spent on ads by october 2015 for the 2016 election

there is nothing about referendums in the…
direct democracy is … based
state based
what are recall elections
re-calling elected representatives in STATE elections
how many states have the re-call process
how many signatures needed for recall
12% of voters
what California governor was recalled in 2003 and who replaced him?
Gray Davis- 3 million signatures- started by the right of centre interest groups

Arnold Schawzenegger replaced him

how many attempts of recall were there between 2011-2012?
15- and 5 were successful

majority of recalls have happened in recent years- only 36 recall elections since 1913

GIVE AN example of an interest group using recall elections as an access point

2013- was successful in the campaign of replacing 2 democrat STATE senators who voted in favour of tighter control with republicans

an attempt to recall which governor in 2012?
Scott walker- Wisconsin

deeply republican state

trade unions- liberal left used their interest groups to campaign for recall-

– responded with wealthy republican supporters- OUTSIDE state

– Koch brothers spend 700,000 dollars on ads supporting Scott walker


pros and cons of recall elections

1) direct democracy- power to people

2) increases democratic accountability


1) interest groups can dominate- out of state spending by Koch brothers in Scott walkers recall to protect him- and in Gray Davis- close vdll 55% to 45%

2) unstable gov

3) undermines democratic process

what is a proposition/initiative?
a mechanism by which citizens of a state can place proposed laws and in some states constitutional amendments on state ballots

In Cali- 5% votes cast in last governor election for change in state law

10% for constitutional amendment

give an example that shows how propositions allow for difference across states?
Colorado- legalize recreational use of marijuana

Massachusetts- medical use

Oregon- rejected

explain what happened in cali with regards to proposition 13 and then 30?
prop 13- vast majority voted to cut property tax

led to cali bankruptcy

proposition 30- 2013- 35 years later- tax increase

= problem of direct democracy

what happened proposition 8 in cali
2008- proposition to ban gay marriage- successful

controversial- 106 million dollars spent by both sides

Mormon church got v involved

positives of propositions
1) provide a way of enacting reforms on controversial issues that the state won’t

e.g. Alaska legalised marijuana in 2014- despite being v republican

2) increase responsiveness and accountability

3) help increase voter turnout

2004- Karl rove- mobilized evangelical vote- 4 million in Ohio- on same sex marriage ban on ballot same day

4) citizen activity- initatives- pro-active access for pressure groups

cons of propositions
1) manipulation of public- 2004- Karl Rove

2) interest groups dominate- NRA- Proposition 8- Mormon spending

3_ public make bad decisions- tax proposition 13 1968 and prop 30 2013- Cali

when was first presidential debate?
1960- not until another 16 years- another debate was held
how many presidential debates do there tend to be?
3 90 minutes debates

and then one 90 minute debate between vice presidential candidates

town hall debates?
no podium- seated in front of undecided group of voters
what type of debates were there 2012?
1st- podium

2nd- townhall

3rd- roundtable discussions

which third party candidate was the only one allowed to participate in debate?
Ross Perot 1992- all three debates

and his running mate James Stockdale joined vp debate

why did Carter refuse to show up to debate in 1980?
because third party candidate John anderson- invited
Carter vs Reagan- 1980
Reagan’s winning closing statement

– convincing rhetoric

“do you feel that our security is safe?”

Carter went on to win just 49 ECVs

Reagan vs Mondale 1984
Reagan – comeback on a comment about his old age

“I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponents youth and inexperience”

– laughter

went on to win 49 states

Obama vs Romney 2012
race has been undoubtedly in Obama’s favour

BUT- Obama’s lacklustre performace- gave Romney bounce

– leading in gallup and real clear politics polls within a week

72% of viewers said Romney had won

52 percentage point margin- largest in debate history


obama went onto win

debates rules of thumb
1) style more important than substance

1992- Bush looking at his watch- mocked on SNL

2012- Obama’s passive style

2) verbal gaffes can be costly

Romney 2012- sexist remarks- “binders full of women”

Al Gore- sighs during Bush’s speech- invades his personal space-

3) soundbites

vice presidential debate 1988

Bentsen and Quayle

Bentsen: “you are not Jack Kennedy”

Obama 2012- said Romney favoured ” the foreign policy of the 1980’s, the social policy of the 1950s and the economic policy of the 1920s”


they have a record to defend-

things can only get worse, really

– promises made 4 years ago- thrown back at them

Romney to Carter in 1980 “there you go again”

Obama’s problem in 2012- president brought down to the level of an equal politician to his challenger

expectations that Obama has to fulfil

5) more about confirming what voters already feel about candidates than changing their views

MEDIA- ADS- purpose?
1) activation- Obama got ads on tv in the day time to target certain demographics- activate apathetic democrats

2) reinforcement- getting your people out to vote- Reagan- positive way forward- statue of liberty

Bush- advert- postive image of him as a family man

3) conversion – Bush senior’s Willie Horton 1988- attack ad

to imply that Dukakis was a wet liberal- soft on murder and rape

– devastating impact for Dukakis

attack ad- swift boat?
veterans for truth


– undermine the view of kerry as a war hero

give example of web ads
2008- Yes we can- music ad

– target- young voters who don’t vote- activation

Obama’s campaign seizes John McCains comment that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong”

^ despite the financial crisis

problem with John McCains campaign in 2008
– focus too much on attack ads of obama

humorous ad mocking obama as if he’s a god

instead of proving McCains readiness to be commander in chief

shock jocks
Glenn bECH- PROVOCATIVE- controversial

target- alienated white working class demographic

there is low
circulation of newspapers compared to britain in The US

– democrats win news papers- cities

2012- Obama- 41 news paper endorsements to McCains 35