President as party leader
Views of the Founders – did not envision a role for political parties. George Washington was a non-partisan president; called parties "potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government."
Different party roles for the president:
Symbolic – leader of the party. Several presidents attained office by building political parties or reshaping existing ones.
Initiator of the party’s policies. Esp. true today, even when his party controls Congress.
Party power and presidential administration
Leading organizational role – top fundraiser, campaigns for congressional and state candidates, picks people for the national committee. President has not always played this role. Tension between president and state parties.
Presidential appointments – Up through the 1950s, was dominated by Congress. Used for patronage to reward the party faithful. Senatorial courtesy (still applies to some extent to lower court nominations when the senators are from the president’s party).
Limits on parties – progressive reforms. Primaries, non-partisan agencies, civil service.
Presidents, parties, and elections
lChanges in party composition of the nation:
–The “Big Sort”: people move to be with like-minded people.
–Party registration figures: more Dems, but a lot more Independents.
–Red and Blue
lSplit-ticket voting and presidential coattails. Presidential attempts to influence congressional elections: FDR’s 1938 purge. Very unusual to get involved in primaries. 1986 – Reagan’s attempt to save the Senate. Bush’s success in 2002 and failure in 2006.
lPresidential popularity, midterm outcomes and impact on the next election.
Presidents and partisanship
Congress, the president, and parties: president can govern with a partisan or bipartisan approach in Congress.
Party leadership: building strong party organizations, campaigning for party candidates, raise money for party organization. Partisanship: president’s attitudinal disposition to the party. How partisan is he? Two-by-two table
Are strong parties and the presidency incompatible?