Chapter 12: Nominations, Campaigns, & Elections


Election Process:



0-3 Months:                 Testing the Waters

Month 4:                      Candidate Announcement

4-7 Months:                 Building Organization

7-10 Months:               Obtaining Support

Invisible Primary

11-14 Months:             Early Primaries

15-18 Months:             Late Primaries

20-24 Months:             Nominating Convention and Campaign

Election Day


-Start up fee for presidential campaign = approx. $20 million

-Must make an announcement

            -usually self-made

            -could be made in the halls of Congress or on steps of governor’s residence, etc.

            -covered by media

-After announcement made, candidate starts building organization

            -develop strategy

            -raise funds


            -New Hampshire, Iowa – February

            -New York, California – March

            -Usually determine who the nominations will go to

            -Conventions are more like coronations

-Campaign becomes extremely intense after nomination

-Media influences every aspect of campaign



-Before primaries, caucus were more popular

            -more direct form of democracy, similar to town meeting

-Primary is the decisive way a candidate gains delegate support

            -30 states have them (others use caucuses or conventions)

            -Generally necessary for candidates to win several early primaries

            -Primaries can use:

-Proportional representation – delegates selected based on the percentage of the vote the candidate received in the election

-Winner takes all – as in the actual election, candidate receiving a majority receives all the delegates

                                    -Dem. Party banned its use in 1976

-Nonpreferential primary – voters choose delegates who are not bound to vote for the winning primary candidate

-Primary vote – all voters, including those from other parties, can express a preference but do not actually select delegates

-Dual primary – presidential candidates are selected and a separate slate of delegates is voted on (New Hampshire)


The Party Convention

-Date back to 1830s – first open party convention: Jacksonian Democrats

-Provide excitement, hooplah, nomination of party’s candidate

            -1924: Dem. Convention took 103 ballots to determine candidate

            -Since 1952: both parties have only needed 1 ballot

-National media coverage

-Platform fights can arise

-Keynote addresses can lead to national recognition

-Actual balloting a formality

-Selection of runningmate – balance the ticket or pay of political debt


The General Campaign

-Once candidate receives nomination, most keep momentum

            -funds are usually plentiful

            -Additional funds solicited by national committee

-Each presidential hopeful must:

            -Target the campaign – plot out the best way to achieve an electoral majority

            -Take advantage of political assets

                        -Dem. candidate usually identifies with party

                        -Rep. usually downplays (smaller party)

            -Develop an image that voters respond to

                        -public seems to respond to personality more than issues

            -Attract the support of divergent groups

            -Use issues and events for their own advantage

-Take advantage of the media as a primary means of communicating with the public

-Use the campaign organization and workers to get the vote out


Election Reform

-Critics of the nominating process point to the cost, length, and manner in which candidates wage their campaigns for delegates as reasons for reform

-Major criticism has been directed at presidential primary

-Prerequisite of successful candidacy = funds

-Congress pledged to allocate funds to help states reform and update their ballot procedures following Florida scandal in 2000


Financial Reform

-Campaign finance reform aims to remove the influence of special interests by limiting the amount and nature of political contributions by political action committees and lobbyists

-Costs escalate because of the use of the media by candidates, direct mailings, polling, and staff salaries

-Total amount of money in federal elections has escalated from $14 million in 1952 to more than $160 million in 1996

-Politicians do accept small donations, but also need “fat cat” donations and donations from special groups (NRA, American Medical Association, etc.)

-1971 Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA)

            -Restrictions on advertising

            -Disclosure of contributions over $100

            -Limited amount of personal contributions of candidates and their relatives

-1974 Federal Election Campaign Act

-6-person Federal Election Commission

            -Enforce provisions of law

            -Establish matching federal funds for presidential candidates

                        -Candidate must raise $5000 in at least 20 states

                        -Citizens limited to contributions of $1000 per candidate

                                    -$20,000 to political parties, $5000 to political action committees

                        -Total amount of allowable contributions by an individual limited

                        -Political action committees limited to $5000 to any candidate

                                    -does not restrict contributions for other purposes (donations to                                                 senators, representatives)

            -Candidates who did not accept matching federal funds could spend unlimited    amounts of personal funds

-Each state must set up its own campaign finance laws                                                  

-Public funding of pres. campaigns = significant impact on election process since 1971

-Money given to candidates during primary and general campaign and to parties to help fund national conventions

-1996 – Campaign finance abuses

            -Democratic Party returned millions of dollars in illegal contributions

            -Both houses held hearing regarding fundraising practices of both parties

-Proposed major campaign finance reform legislation:

            -Financial Disclosure by public officials: 1978 law requiring reps and senators to file annual reports detailing income, investments

            -Special Prosecutor Law: allowed attorney general to appoint outside counsel to investigate and prosecute illegal activity by members of Exec. Branch

                        -Congress voted to abolish after Clinton impeachment trial

            -Donor and Campaign Expenditure Reports: 1974 law – candidates and parties must file reports with the Federal Election Commission

            -Taxpayer Campaign Funding Reform: created public funding of presidential campaign through an income tax check-off

                        -qualified candidates could collect matching funds for contributions of <$250

            -Campaign Spending Limits: attempted to place restrictions on dinependent expenditures

                        -mostly overturned by Supreme Court (Buckley v. Valeo, 1976)

            -The McCain-Feingold Bill: addresses issues such as soft money, lobbyists, PACs, and overall fundraising activities in federal elections


Caucus – A nominating device, a group of like-minded people who meet to select the candidates they will support in an upcoming election.


Coattails - The influence of another person; the effect of association with another person; as, he was elected to office on the president's coattails.


Convention bump- An increase reflected in presidential preference polls immediately following a party’s nominating convention.


Direct primary- An election held within a party to pick that party’s candidates for the general election.


Dual primary-where presidential candidates are selected and a separate slate of delegates is also voted on


Favorite son- The presidential candidate backed by the home state at the party’s nominating convention.


Front leading-


Front-runner- A Designation given to the candidate who leads in the polls.


Gender gap– The measurable differences between the partisan choices or men and women today.


High-tech campaign- A major characteristic of the modern presidential campaign. The use of paid political ads, paid infomercials incorporating charts and graphs, and sophisticated polling techniques have all been used in recent campaigns.


Infomercials- Paid political commercials usually lasting longer than the average 30 or 60 second paid political ad.


Invisible primary-


Keynote address- A speech given at a party convention to set the tone for the convention and the campaign to come.


Matching funds- Limited federal funds given to presidential candidates that match private donations raised during the campaign.


Nonpreferential primary-Voters choose delegates who are not bound to vote for the winning primary candidate.


Party caucus- A closed meeting of a party’s House or Senate members; also called a party conference.

Party regulars- Enrolled party members who are usually active in the organization of a political party and support the party positions and nominated candidates.


Political action committee- The political extension of special interest groups which have a major stake in public policy.


Preferential primary-


Presidential primary-An election in which a party’s voters (1)choose State party organization’s delegates to their party’s national convention, and/or (2)express a preference for their party’s presidential nomination.


Soccer mom- A term coined in 1996 presidential election referring to those suburban women, some of whom are single parents, who supported President Clinton because of his articulation of their values.


Spin doctors- Slang for a person who publicizes favorable interpretations of the words and actions of a public figure, especially a politician.


Super delegate- Democratic Party leaders and elected party officials who automatically are selected as delegates to the National Convention.


Super Tuesday- The Tuesday on which a number of primary votes take place, with a heavy concentration of southern states voting.


Thirty-second spots- Paid Political ads 30 seconds in duration.


Tracking poll- Polls conducted by media outlets to gauge the potential outcome of a political election on a periodic basis.


Voter turnout- The number of people that vote during an election.