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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tasks & Functions of Political Parties

HW due Friday: Read 241-249 in Janda and take the reading quiz.

LO 4.C.1: Explain the functions and impact of political parties with regard to the electorate and the government.

Questions to Consider:


  • Who makes up a political party?

Please take a few minutes and read the following:




“Three-headed Giant”

  1. Party in the Electorate: The base of the party; the voters (self-identifying)
  2. Party as an Organization: National, state, and local staff and office (DNC & RNC); decentralized
  3. Party in Government: Elected officials (President, Congress members, etc) who are members of the party; helps organize; not always in agreement; spokespersons


  • What do political parties do? What is their function/task?
1. Nominating Function: Parties select their candidates for office; power has shifted from organization to party electorate through primaries/caucuses (weakening of political parties)

2. Campaign Function: National, state, local organizations help fund/coordinate campaigns; mobilize voters; growth of individual campaigns due to Internet and campaign finance laws/SuperPACs (weakening of political parties in the electorate)

3. Label Function: Provides a cue for voters on candidate positions; although more individuals moving toward independent label (weakening of political parties)

4. Government Function: helps organize Congress (committee system, leadership, etc.); appointments on a partisan basis; polarization of parties (strengthening of parties within government)



5. Watchdog Function: Keep tabs on the party in power; work to become the party in power


Which party function is most important? Why?

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