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a) using the extract, explain the purpose of a balanced ticket in presidential elections.

(8 marks) Balancing the ticket is most important in US presidential elections as this is the only election that appeals to the electorate nationally. In a country as diverse geographically, ethnically, ideologically and religiously as America it is important to appeal to as broader cross section of voters as possible. This is done through balancing the ticket where the presidential candidate will usually choose a running mate from a different regional, ethnic, religious or ideological background from his own. For example, in 2004 Kerry (a Senator from the North East) chose John Edwards (from the south) as his vice president. Dukakis, in 1988, chose a conservative Democrat, Bernsten, to counterbalance his own liberal beliefs. In 1960 JFKs vice president was chose to balance Kennedys Catholicism and Gore balanced his own WASP background with Lieberman, who is Jewish, in 2000. Hence these candidates were able to appeal to large sections of US society, but balancing the ticket does not guarantee success, of all these examples, only JFK was successful in winning office. b) Using the extract, as well as your own knowledge, consider the main reasons for the relative lack of success of independent candidates in US presidential elections. (12 marks) There has never been a successful independent candidate in US presidential elections and very few have achieved office at a congressional level. One of the main reasons that third parties have been unsuccessful is that the main two parties are broad churches. This means that within the parties there is a great diversity of ideology, they can encompass views stretching from the right (radical libertarians in the Republican party) to the centre (compassionate conservatives) and beyond (such as left wing Old Democrats). This means that there is litte issue space for third parties to occupy. This is exacerbated by clothes stealing where a policy of a third party is popular, the loose nature of US political parties means they can assimilate it, regardless of ideology. This was the case when Ross Perot advocated reducing the federal budget deficit as part of his 1992 presidential campaign. The policy was quickly adopted by both the Republicans and Democrats.

Electoral finance is a major issue for third parties. American elections are exceptionally costly, so all parties need considerable funds to fight their campaigns. The National Conventions for the main two parties are funded federally, and they have access to further federal funds for election campaign. However, federal funding can only be received if a party achieves more than 5% of the vote, difficult for most third parties, and full funding is only possible at 25% of the vote which it is unlikely a third party will ever achieve. Elections for third parties are doubly costly as they have to campaign just to get on the ballot in some states, such as California, in 2000 Nader was unable to get on the ballot in seven states. This added cost is not helped by the fact that people are reluctant to donate to third parties as they are unsure of their chances of success. The American political system discriminates against third party candidates. To win an election, presidential candidates need to win key states with significant amounts of electoral college seats. This makes it hard for third parties with national appeal to achieve enough regionally concentrated votes to win ECV such as Perot in 1992 who won 19% of the national vote but no ECV. The historical duopoly in America means there is strong voter identification with the main parties and voters are unlikely to veer away from the parties they know and understand. Voters are also unlikely to vote for third party candidates as they fear wasting their votes as the third party candidates have little chance of national electoral success, it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. Third party candidates such as George Wallace failed as his prosegregation stance was never going to win him support in the North East. Perot failed because he wasnt able to regionally concentrate his vote and Nader was unsuccessful as his policies were assimilated by the major parties. However, by splitting the vote for the major parties, these third party candidates did play a role in deciding the outcome of presidential elections. Wallace lost the Democrats the White House in 1968, Perot split the Republican vote in 1992 ensuring Clintons victory and if the Nader supporters in Florida had supported Gore instead, maybe the world would be a different place today.

c) To what extent are greater differences of principles and policies to be found within rather than between US political parties? (20 marks) Political parties in the United States are not the cohesive units which dominate British politics. There is a great deal of disunity within the parties but there are also elements where the parties unite. To answer the question it is necessary to discuss how the two political parties differ, divisions within the parties and where these division occur. There are broad ideological differences between the Republican and Democrat parties. The Republicans are usually conservative representing the interests of business where the Democrats are seen as liberal and represent the worker and minority groups. The differences between the parties can be seen in their opinions on issues. In 1988, 87% of Republican National Convention Delegates advocated small government while up to 84% of Democrats advocated big government (i.e. government provision of services). There are similar dichotomies on abortion (which the majority of Republicans oppose, Democrats support), affirmative action (Republicans preferring little government interference on racial issues, Democrats not) and military spending (which the Republicans support, Democrats oppose). These differences are less important during election campaigns as parties tend to gravitate to the centre to win votes, but, it can be concluded that there are significant differences between the parties. However, both political parties in the US suffer internal divisions. In the past, Republicans have suffered large policy divisions between radical libertarians (represented by Senator John Sununu who was adviser to Bush senior.) and compassionate conservatives such as Bush junior. Libertarians advocate the complete withdrawal of government from the lives of its citizens, such as removing state benefits, whereas compassionate conservatives advocate a limited welfare state. The Republican Party can also be divided on issues which it is seen to have a coherent ideology. While Republicans are usually anti-affirmative action, Colin Powell (who, it was once speculated, was to be the first black Republican president) supported affirmative action in a Supreme Court case in 2004. Hence it can be seen that there are great divisions within the Republican Party.

There are also large divisions within the Democrats. These have been particularly apparent since the advent of New Democrats such as Clinton and Gore who advocate limited government intervention in the economy in the form of high tariffs on imports to protect American business (protectionism). Old Democrats such as Jesse Jackson (who twice campaigned for the Democrat presidential nomination) and Edward Kennedy (Senator for Massachusetts) dislike protectionism. While there is an element of consensus within the Democrats on issues such as abortion, consensus building is difficult as in 1988 the majority of delegates to the National Conventions identified themselves as neither conservative or liberals. Hence it is clear that there are also significant splits within the Democrats. The use of primaries by both parties serves to highlight splits within the parties. In primary elections, candidates need to appear different from their opponents so exploit or exaggerate splits within their party. This was the case in 2004 when Kerry and Dean fought for the Democratic presidential nomination. Dean campaigned as an anti-war liberal while Kerry was a moderate who have voted for the war in Congress, this highlighted the split within the party. Within Congress, the parties can be divided. Clinton was only able to pass NAFTA with the help of the Republicans. However, since 1995, partisanship in Congress has increased with around 70% of votes following party lines. So while the parties are electorally divided, once in Congress, there is a tendency to unite. It is possible to argue that US political parties have significant divisions both between and within them. In the current political climate, the Republicans are ideologically united, particularly with regards to foreign policy, while the Democrats are in a period ideological disunity. The extent to which parties have differences between and within them depend on circumstances.