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Finally, party success is strongly influenced by local election laws. Someone has to write the rules that govern elections, and those rules help to determine outcomes. In the United States, such rules have been written to make it easy for existing parties to secure a spot for their candidates in future elections. But some states create significant burdens for candidates who wish to run as independents or who choose to represent new parties. For example, one common practice is to require a candidate who does not have the support of a major party to ask registered voters to sign a petition. Sometimes, thousands of signatures are required before a candidate’s name can be placed on the ballot ( [link] ), but a small third party that does have large numbers of supporters in some states may not be able to secure enough signatures for this to happen.

Kevin Liptak, “’Fatal Flaw:’ Why Third Parties Still Fail Despite Voter Anger,” http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/21/politics/third-party-fail/index.html (March 13, 2016).

An image of one person holding a clipboard, shaking hands with another person. A third person stands nearby.
Costa Constantinides (right), while campaigning in 2013 to represent the 22nd District on the New York City Council, said, “Few things are more important to a campaign than the petition process to get on the ballot. We were so pumped up to get started that we went out at 12:01 a.m. on June 4 to start collecting signatures right away!” Constantinides won the election later that year. (credit: modification of work by Costa Constantinides)

Given the obstacles to the formation of third parties, it is unlikely that serious challenges to the U.S. two-party system will emerge. But this does not mean that we should view it as entirely stable either. The U.S. party system is technically a loose organization of fifty different state parties and has undergone several considerable changes since its initial consolidation after the Civil War. Third-party movements may have played a role in some of these changes, but all resulted in a shifting of party loyalties among the U.S. electorate.

Critical elections and realignment

Political parties exist for the purpose of winning elections in order to influence public policy. This requires them to build coalitions across a wide range of voters who share similar preferences. Since most U.S. voters identify as moderates,

Morris P. Fiorina, “America’s Missing Moderates: Hiding in Plain Sight,” 2 February 2013, http://www.the-american-interest.com/2013/02/12/americas-missing-moderates-hiding-in-plain-sight/ (March 1, 2016).
the historical tendency has been for the two parties to compete for “the middle” while also trying to mobilize their more loyal bases. If voters’ preferences remained stable for long periods of time, and if both parties did a good job of competing for their votes, we could expect Republicans and Democrats to be reasonably competitive in any given election. Election outcomes would probably be based on the way voters compared the parties on the most important events of the day rather than on electoral strategy.

Questions & Answers

powers of the judiciary
Princewill Reply
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Princewill
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Moses
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the political philosophy that ordinary people can govern themselves
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explain 5 reasons for the adoption of unitary system of government in some government
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Claudia Reply
Judicial, Executive, Legislative branches
Chatbot
The Constitution: Name Specific Constitutional procedure for confirming presidential appointees?
Chatbot
Executive, Legislative and Judicial are the three arms of government
Rashid
an authoritative party given authority by a people in an area presumably controlled by the people, to foster law and elected administration for progressively conservative ideas that encompass social ethics, and inspire peaceful congregations.
Jesse
The US has a Judicial, Legislative, and Executive branches of federal government. Also we adopt state, and local principalities that sometimes defer the federal, yet is usually respected in the locality.
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A election is a formal and organized choice by voters of a person or people for a political office or other position.
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Can you explain the Stockdale Paradox
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Founding Father who fought to add the Bill of Rights to the Constitution he helped write (called the "Father of the Constitution"). He and Jefferson didn't want the federal govt to overpower the states (Democratic-Republican party). Cowrote The Federalist Papers. 4th President of the US (1809-1817).
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Source:  OpenStax, American government. OpenStax CNX. Dec 05, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11995/1.15
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