The parties, their elites, party activists, and the candidates all have something important at stake in the presidential elections.
Under the old rules and closed-door decision making, seasoned and electable politicians were the parties' nominees.
Activists with a broader agenda than simply winning power seek control of the platform and the nomination, and may have goals other than electability in mind.
The primary system allows them to get the most out of their time and money in politics.
Candidates for the nomination have to answer to both traditional party leaders and activist members.
They are in a difficult position because of this.
Once nominated and pursuing a national bipartisan victory, the candidate needs to hold on to party supporters while drawing in those not already committed to the other side.
The rules of the Electoral College are used by the candidate here.
In presidential campaigns, organizational and strategic tactics are employed.
The ideal citizen of classical democratic theory is not the American citizen.
Nothing we have learned in this chapter has convinced us that Americans are doomed to be undemocratic.
In the first chapter of the book, we looked at three different models of citizen activity in democracies, which we revisit here.
The elite model argues that as citizens we can't do anything more than choose the elites who govern us, making a rather passive choice from among remote leaders.
The second model of democratic politics, the pluralist model, sees us as participating in political life primarily through our affiliation with different types of groups.
The model of democracy that it rejects because it believes it is unsatisfactory for the majority of the populace to play a largely passive role in the political system is theParticipatory model of democracy.
Through being politically active, this model holds that we grow and develop as citizens.
The American citizen's role in elections seems to borrow elements from all three models in a way that might be called a fourth model.
American citizens do not meet the ideals of democratic theory, but they do make a difference in American politics through the mechanism of elections.
Most citizens had low levels of interest in presidential election campaigns, according to early studies of voting.
The studies of the 1944 and 1948 presidential elections found that most citizens had their minds made up before the campaigns began and that opinions changed only slightly in response to the efforts of the parties and candidates.
People voted according to the groups they belonged to instead of relying on new information from the campaigns.
Income, occupation, religion, and similar factors structured who people talked to, what they learned, and how they voted.
The studies concluded that democracy is probably safer without a single type of citizen who matches the civic ideal of high levels of participation, knowledge, and commitment.
The willingness to compromise is a result of intense commitment and strongly held positions.
The revision of the call for good citizens holds that our democratic polity is better off when it has lots of different types of citizens: some who care deeply, are highly informed, and participate intensely; many more who care moderately, and participate as much as possible.
The virtue of modern democracy is that citizens play different roles and that together these roles combine to form an electoral system that responds to changes of issues and candidates, but not too much, and the electorate as a whole.
If we can argue that most Americans are involved enough in elections to make a difference, then we need to ask if the elections they participate in make a difference.
In the United States, elections achieve electoral accountability.
Our leaders are more or less concerned with the consequences of their actions for their next election if they have to stand for reelection.
The fact that citizens tend to vote retroactively gives incumbent administrations a lot of incentive to keep things running and to avoid policies that citizens may hold against them.
Officeholders pay attention to what they are doing in elections.
It makes a difference who wins.
The parties will move national policy in the direction they believe in if given the chance.
The relationship between national elections and the policies of the government is observed by scholars.
In the politics of the American states, we can see that more liberal states are enacted more liberal policies and more conservative states are enacted more conservative policies.
Elections matter because they give citizens points of activity to rally around.
The 2010 midterms were targeted by Republicans because they were angry at the passage of theAffordable Care Act.
After the election of Donald Trump, Democrats focused on recruiting candidates and honing their message.
We have more opportunities to take advantage of them if we choose, because elections can provide a structure for citizen activity, and with the connections the mediated age provides us, we have more opportunities than ever to take advantage of them.
Because elections seem to bring policy into rough agreement with citizen preferences does not mean that all citizens know what they want and that candidates know this.
Some people know what they want while others don't.
Some candidates pay more attention to their consciences than others, while others heed the wishes of their voters.
We find that policy follows elections.
The importance of elections for citizens is recognized.
Let's revisit: What's at stake.
In a modern democracy, an archaic constitutional institution, long altered from its original purpose, was able to throw an election from a popular vote winner to her opponent.
Politics is about rules and jockeying to get the rules that give you an advantage.
The Electoral College's major job is to produce winners and loser, so we need to be clear about that.