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Flashcards in US Elections Deck (32)
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Of the 22 declared candidates for the Republican and Democratic nominations in 2016, how many were state governors? Senators?

8 state governors, 11 Senators. The other 3 had had no political experience.


Every year since X has seen a president from a major party (a requirement if you want to win).

The political endeavours of who revealed how independent/3rd party candidates rarely get into the White House?

X = 1980.

Gary Jonson (2016).


What is a 'war chest'? How much did Trump invest into his own campaign? Who did he get a $1million donation from? How much did Clinton raise during her bid in 2016?

Sum of money for conducting a campaign - large sums need to be raised during invisi-primary (before caucuses + primaries). Trump invested $66.1 million of his own, and got the donation from Peter Thiel.

Clinton = Over $700 million.


How did Trump subvert the requirement of having 'sound policies' to win elections?

In 2016, his campaign rhetoric was slim on policy detail and consisted of his oft-repeated promise to 'make America great again'.


When did the invisi-primary take place in 2016? What 3 things did it entail?

When did the state primaries and caucuses take place? What is 'Super Tuesday'?

June 2015-Feb 2016; TV debates, visits to key states and TV ads.

Feb-June 2016; 'Super Tuesday' = when you have around 10 states delivering their results at the same time. By the time this happens, it's clear who will win?


What happened in July 2016? July-November 2016?

What 2 key things can help you win the invisible primary?

July = National conventions are held; Jul-Nov = Presidential campaigns began in earnest.

Name recognition - Trump a billionaire, had real estate in Manhattan + was host of American apprentice. Clinton = from a political family and Secretary of State.

Fundraising - Clinton had the Clinton Foundation, Trump used a lot of his own money.


What is a primary? What is a caucus?

Primary = A state-based election to choose a party's candidate for the presidency. Done through choosing delegates to go to the national party conventions.

Caucuses = A state-based series of meetings to choose a candidate. They also select delegates.


How is the invisible primary arguably a critical stage in discerning who the presidential candidate will likely be?

How arguably not?

2016 - Trump and Clinton had at least a 14 percentage point lead over their closest rivals by the end of the invisible primary.

But, in 2008, though Clinton had a 15 percentage point lead over Obama by the end of the invisible primary, Obama still went on to win the nomination.


What are national party conventions for? How long do they usually last? Who are they usually attended by?

Selecting Presidential / VP candidates. 4 days. Delegates + the media.


In the Democratic convention in 2008, what were the first 2 speeches?

First speech = by Michelle Obama. It humanised Obama and indicated family values.

Second = By Clinton. In the primaries, it was Obama v Clinton. So, having a speech by Clinton allowed Obama to appeal to Clinton supporters, uniting the Democrats.


In the Democratic convention in 2008, what were the 3rd and 4th speeches?

Third speech = By Joe Biden, VP candidate.

Fourth + final = By Obama's acceptance speech. Last = the one people remember the most.


When was the Federal Election Campaign Act signed? When (and why)? Was it amended? What did it create?

1971; 1974 in light of Watergate; Federal Election Commission.


What was the FEC Act designed to do? What is soft money?

Even out the amount of money the 2 major parties spent on campaigns.

Soft money = Unregulated funds given to parties over candidates. Used for negative campaigning.


What are matching funds? Who are they provided by (in return for what)?

Give an example of matching funds.

Federal money provided by the FEC from 1976 - an equal amount given to both major party candidates, in return to them agreeing to raising/spending limitations.

$240,000,000 given to Bush and Al Gore's campaigns in 2000.


What law did Obama sign that put a limit on federal funds?

What are PACs? Give 2 examples.

A law in 2014 which banned these funds from being used to finance party conferences.

Political Action Committees - activist groups who raise money to help elect/defeat candidates, e.g. the NRA + Greenpeace.


What is a SuperPAC? How did they help Clinton/Trump in 2016?

A larger version of a PAC. that uses money to finance advertising independently of candidates or parties since 2010.

'Rebuilding America Now' gave just over $40 million for Trump; 'Priorities USA Action' gave Hilary over $150 million.


What is campaign money spent on?

Campaign staff; airfare; media (TV ads, etc.).


How did Mitt Romney act in the first debate in 2012, a month before election day when he was behind in the polls?

How did Joe Klein, a columnist, describe Obama's performance?

Direct and aggressive.

Obama = "one of the most inept performances by a president".


As a result of the debate, by how many percantage points (from polls taken over the telephone for who one would vote for based on the debate) was Romney ahead of Obama?

When was Al Gore caught out? Why? What did the Bush campaign do?

52. But Obama still won.

2001, 1st debate - he made exaggerated claims that the Bush campaign drew attention to it straight after.


What verbal gaffe did Trump make in 2016? Yet, why didn't this concern his supporters?

In the 3rd debate, he refused to say whether he'd respect the result win or lose. He said "I'll keep you in suspense.".

Yet, this was just more evidence that Trump was not just another professional politician, increasing his standing among them.


How many Electoral votes do you need to win?

What are 2 potential failures of the Electoral College system?

Why was the system controversial in 2000 and 2016? What was up with the losing candidate?

At least 270.

If a candidate wins a plurality, but not a majority; in the case of a tie, the HOR has to vote for the President + the Senate for the VP.

Both Trump + Bush did not win the popular vote, but did win the EC. This happens when the losing candidate wins electoral college votes in smaller states.


1 argument in favour of the Electoral College?

The system encourages national campaigning. To win, a candidate needs to appeal to many different types of voters. The USA is big + diverse.


2 arguments against the Electoral College?

It gives more power to those in smaller states: in Wyoming, 1 electoral vote for every 135k people; California, 1 vote for every 411k people.

It creates swing states - entire elections decided by these. Example = 80% of votes cast in 2012 had little relevancy.


Which swing state was crucial to Trump's victory (and has picked the winning candidate in the last 5 presidential elections)?



What is a proposition? What's an example of state-level protest via proposition?

A proposal by citizens to change state laws.

Some states have changed their state laws to legalise recreational cannabis through Propositions.


What is a direct proposal (and how many states use them)? An indirect proposal (and how many states use them)?

How many states don't allow propositions?

Direct = proposals that go straight to the ballot paper, bypassing state legislatures. (15)

Indirect = proposals added to the ballot paper after an endorsement by state legislature. (9).



When did California legalise recreational cannabis? What caveats are there here?

Jan 2018; but , there are lots of regulations for dosing THC requirmerements.

Also, state law here goes against federal law that bans recreational cannabis.


In January 2018, what did the-then Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescind?

What does the California Marijuana topic reveal about federal vs state power?

An Obama administration policy that discouraged federal prosecutors in most cases from bringing charges where cannabis is legal under state law.

Federal gov + law is more powerful than individual states.


Why is a referendum held in the US?

Why a Recall Election? In how many states is a recall election permitted?

After a bill passed by the state legislature is controversial enough for a referendm to happen.

When the people can remove a state politician (through petition). It's allowed in 19 states.


Who was a recall vote triggered by in 2003 for California? Why?

Republican activists, angry at high unemployment rate and struggling schools under Democrat governor Davis.