Political Parties, Voting, and Interest Groups
Standard(s) of Learning
||The student will demonstrate knowledge of the organization and powers of the national government by
|| describing the organization, role, and constituencies of political parties;
||describing the nomination and election process;
||examining campaign funding and spending;
||analyzing the influence of media coverage, campaign advertising, public opinion polls, and Internet-based communications on elections;
||examining the impact of reapportionment and redistricting on elections;
||identifying how amendments extend the right to vote;
||analyzing voter turnout;
||evaluating the degree to which interest groups influence political life;
||participating in simulations of local, state, and/or national elections.
||The student will demonstrate knowledge of the process by which public policy is made by
||examining different perspectives on the role of government;
||describing how the national government influences the public agenda and shapes public policy;
||describing how the state and local governments influence the public agenda and shape public policy;
||describing the process by which policy is implemented by the bureaucracy at each level;
||describing how individuals, interest groups, and the media influence public policy.
Using the following information, evaluate how political parties are organized to win elections:
• Each major political party seeks to define itself in ways that wins majority support while remaining committed to core principles.
• The two major parties are coalitions of several factions and interest groups and recognize the importance of conducting campaigns that appeal to voters in the middle of the political spectrum, veering neither too far left nor too far right of the political center.
Explain that political parties have national, state, and local organizations.
Identify roles of political parties:
• Select candidates
• Raise funds
• Conduct campaigns
• Identify important issues
• Monitor the party in power
Explain that third parties can form to highlight single issues in a given election or provide a long-term forum for minority views.
Explain that at each level of government, candidates for elective office are chosen using a variety of nominating methods.
Identify ways individuals may seek nomination for national, state, and local office:
• Nominating conventions
• Direct primary
Using the following information, describe how political parties nominate candidates for national, state, and local office:
• The two major political parties use the national nominating convention to select presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
• In Virginia, state and local party organizations determine which method of nomination will be used to select candidates. Once nominated, candidates campaign and go before the voters for election to office.
Explain that democracy requires that elections be free, honest, and accurate.
Using the following information, evaluate how the high cost of getting elected has affected campaign funding and spending:
• Running for political office is expensive.
• Laws limit the amount individuals and groups may contribute to federal, state, and local candidates.
• The Federal Election Campaign Act provides for a system of financing based on three principles:
– Public funding of presidential elections
– Limitations on the amounts presidential and congressional candidates may receive from contributors
– Public disclosure of the amount candidates spend to get elected
• In state and local campaigns, campaign contributions are unlimited but must be reported.
• Rising campaign costs require candidates to conduct extensive fundraising activities.
Explain how media coverage, campaign advertising, and opinion polls influence public opinions during a political campaign:
• Mass media (including Internet) influence public opinion.
• Campaign advertisements are used to persuade and/or mobilize the electorate.
• Scientific polling is used to measure public attitudes, target ads, and refine campaign strategies.
Explain that the Constitution of Virginia and the Constitution of the United States of America require reapportionment of national, state, and local legislative bodies following each census.
Evaluate how changes in population and resulting reapportionment have a political effect on legislative membership at the national, state, and local levels.
Explain that redistricting is a legislative function.
Explain that redistribution of legislative seats can significantly change the outcome of elections.
Explain that gerrymandering is the process of redrawing district boundaries to benefit one political party or group of citizens.
Describe how United States Supreme Court cases in the early 1960s established the "one man, one vote" principle—Wesberry v. Sanders (1964).
Analyze how amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America that extended suffrage:
• 15th Amendment—Ensures right to vote regardless of race
• 17th Amendment—Calls for direct election of United States senators
• 19th Amendment—Grants women the right to vote
• 23rd Amendment—Allows voters in Washington, D.C., to vote for President and Vice President
• 26th Amendment—Gives the right to vote to citizens 18 years and older
Evaluate how the extent of engagement in a political campaign can be measured by voter turnout.
Identify influences on voter turnout:
• Campaign issues
• Voter attitudes toward government
• Voter loyalty to political parties
Explain that education, age, and income are important factors in predicting which citizens will vote.
Analyze why more citizens vote in presidential elections than in other national, state, and local contests, but the percentage of Americans voting in presidential elections is on the decline.
Explain that voter apathy, dissatisfaction, and the failure to meet voting requirements contribute to the decline in voting.
Using the following information, describe how individuals, interest groups, and the media influence public policy:
Ways individuals influence public policy
• Participating in politics (voting, campaigning)
• Expressing opinions (lobbying, demonstrating, writing letters)
• Joining interest groups
Ways interest groups influence public policy
• Identifying issues
• Making political contributions
• Lobbying government officials
Ways the media influences public opinion
• Giving selective attention to issues
• Shaping public opinion by influencing attitudes and beliefs
• Providing information to policy-makers
Below is an annotated list of Internet resources for this organizing topic. Copyright restrictions may exist for the material on some Web sites. Please note and abide by any such restrictions.
“Congressional Districts and Representatives.” Virginia Places. <http://www.virginiaplaces.org/government/congdist.html>. This site offers information on the congressional districts of Virginia.
FindLaw. <http://supreme.findlaw.com/Supreme_Court/resources.html>. This site provides access to the Supreme Court docket.
“House of Delegates Districts by Political Party.” Virginia Places. <http://www.virginiaplaces.org/government/17map.html>. This site supplies information about congressional districts and a map showing which Virginia House of Delegates Districts are controlled by the Democratic, Republican, and Independent parties.
United States Supreme Court. <http://www.supremecourtus.gov/>. This searchable site provides information on the operation and procedures of the Court as well as cases, decisions, and opinions.
“Wesberry v. Sanders.” FindLaw. <http://laws.findlaw.com/us/376/1.html>. This site provides information on a 1964 case that involved racial gerrymandering.