American state elections are often complex in nature and can be considered to be influenced by a host of factors. Different parties as well as individuals at all levels have an influential effect on the holistic welfare of the candidate. Voters and party leaders alike have an upper hand in determining the candidate that is chosen to represent the party at the state level. Again, different factors ranging from social to financial and personal determine this choice. It is certain that most parties tend to give leadership preferences to candidates that have a high probability of winning the same. Thus state and local parties have been cited to play critical roles in influencing the welfare of a given candidate. Besides providing fundamental financial help, they provide guidance and offer emotional as well as technical support to the given candidate. Most importantly, they provide a networking environment that enhances the popularity of the candidate and exposes the same to different environments.
Notably, these offer various opportunities for the respective candidates to enhance their popularity and probability of winning. Different states have specific approaches of choosing the party candidates. These are influenced by different factors that range from the respective state policies that govern the elections to the policies that are employed in governing the activities of the politics and the financial status of the given political party. Of great importance is the need for the candidate to have the ideal qualities and satisfy the fundamental specifications of the given party.
It is in this against his background that this paper provides an explicit analysis of the role of the state and local parties in party elections. In order to enhance a harmonic consideration, it will provide a clear comparison between the role of two state parties in elections in Arkansas and the role of the state parties in New York. Although there are likely to be significant similarities, it is worth noting that he local conditions trigger certain differences. This evaluation would be in light of the experiences of the previous elections in each state.
Background Information on Politics in New York
Just like in Arkansas, politics in New York revolve around two main parties, the conservative republicans and liberal democrats. However, the state also has several other minor parties that equally play an influential role in state politics. Minor parties according to the 2006 election record include Conservative party, Independence party, Right to Life, Liberal, Green Party, Libertarian and Working Families (Hershey 35). These influence state elections because of their ability to cut down the voter percentage significantly. In 2001 elections, leadership of the state was assumed by the Republican Party.
In this, Hershey indicates that the financial influence played a critical role in determining the choice of the voters (46). Nevertheless, it is widely contended that unlike other states in the United States, the New York State has the tendency of electing republican leaders at a state level. However, this trend changes with national elections as the democrats are given preferences by the same in this regard. Evidence indicates that since 1939, the republicans have been in control of the state senate until 2008 when the Democratic Party won by three seats.
Factors Affecting Vote in 2004 and 2008 in New York and Arkansas States
In 2004, state elections in the state of Arkansas were influenced by a host of factors that constituted mainly of political issues. Just like in New York, illegal immigration as well as military spending played a critical role in shaping the attitudes and behavior of the voter. Social issues such as abortion were also pronounced and can be considered to have influenced the voting behavior during this year. This was further perpetuated by the fact that the Christina groups were advocating for the abolition of the relative policies. However, the 2008 voter elections assumed a different dimension as emergent and complex issues determined the behavior of voters in the two states (Beaudry 51). To begin with, it is certain that internet technology had taken root and together with media advertisements, this played a critical role in influencing the attitudes of the voters.
In particular, the internet and social networking sites provided a viable environment through which the candidates could reach a significant percentage of the population. Other social issues such as gender issues and the welfare of minority populations such as the Latino and the Black Americans were also at the center stage of the elections. The voter turn out in this year was significantly high in both state, courtesy of the technological development that had been experienced in the recent past.
Role of State Parties
Currently, elections at the state level are largely candidate centered and therefore the role of the parties in the same does not entirely affect the welfare of the candidates. Nevertheless, parties exercise extreme caution when making choices with regard to the candidates because due to the nature of the elections the success of the party is solely depended on the competence of the candidates. Candidates are however charged with the responsibility of determining whether they participate in the elections or not. Nonetheless, the role of parties in assisting the respective candidates can not be overlooked.
Besides offering the candidates financial help, they provide a brand name of the party under which the given candidate can run. This is important because usually, it shapes the attitudes of the voters and can determine the choice of the same. The brand name is then defined to reflect the values and intentions of the party. The role of publicizing the brand name and enhancing the awareness of the population with regard to the underlying meaning and function of the same is also assumed by the state parties. However, despite offering this important aspect to the candidates, it is worth noting that the parties do not meddle in the program of the candidate. Considering the fact that the candidate and his or her staff are entirely in charge of the campaigns, they assume the responsibility of making and initiating vital programs. However, to enhance cohesion, this is done in consultation with the party.
In a recent interview, Kaine notes that the state parties are also instrumental in carrying out financial redistribution and ensuring that their candidates have sufficient resources to carry out the campaigns with ease. Usually, the finances that candidates get from the parties in New York State average an insignificant five percent of the total spending of the party. In this respect, it is indicated that the direct financial support that the parties accord their candidates during state elections do not exceed twenty percent of the total expenditure of the party. Nevertheless, the parties organize for fundraising and help the candidates to source for other resources from business entities and personalities. In other words, they network on behalf of the candidate in this regard and help to source for widespread support from the prominent individuals who would be willing to sponsor the same.
During elections, state parties provide representatives of the party who play important observation as well as monitoring roles. Usually, these observe the proceedings at the polling station and are not allowed to carry out any form of campaigns at such places. This accredits the election process and eliminates incidences of elections irregularities. Although they are not allowed toinfluence the voters, they can question any procedures that are not in accordance with the regulations of the elections. Studies contend that this enhances transparency and objectivity that gives every candidate an equal opportunity to win the elections. Most importantly, they record the challenges and complaints that are likely to arise at the polling station and ensure that the same are addressed in a timely and effective manner. In general, they act as election watch dogs and seek to enhance justice. Notably, the candidate may not be able to attain this single handedly or with his or her staff, especially consiodering the geographical vastness of the states.
According to studies, state parties in Arkansas help the candidates by providing them with professional campaign services. At this point, it should be acknowledged that the political changes and strategies have become dynamic in nature. Increasingly the public is requiring more creative approaches in encouraging and convincing them to vote for a particular candidate. The expectations of the society have become very complex and satisfying them requires a high level of creativity and a clear understanding of the emergent and multifaceted needs of the population. Of great importance is an understanding of the election environment and the intricacies that characterize the same. Considering the fact that the political environment puts the candidate in a state of tension, s/he may not be in position to understand the different facets of the entire process. This is likely to compromise the ability of the candidate to win the elections.
Hershey cites that state parties help the candidate in making viable choices in this respect (56). Notably, there has been a rise in firms that provide specialized services in this respect. In particular, they specialize in running the entire campaign process for the candidate. Specific areas of concern in this respect according to Crews pertain to writing speeches, sourcing for campaign funds, handling all forms of press releases in a timely manner, preparing and availing advertising copies accordingly, programming television and radio news and generally developing ideal publicity strategies for the candidate. From a psychological viewpoint, these are important as they impact significantly on the voters’ behavior.
As indicated earlier, the candidate may not be in position to run the campaign process individually. In order to attain optimal results, s/he requires a dedicated staff to work with. Usually, state parties tend to have vital information about the individuals and firms that are competent in provided ideal help during the campaign and election period. This is often derived from the records that they maintain over time. In particular, such records contain factual information and contacts of competent firms and individuals that can provide the respective services. In this regard, they help the candidates by providing them with this vital information. Moreover, they offer advice about effective and strategic administration of the campaigns. This enhances the quality of the same as well as the ultimate effect of the campaigns to the population. This further influences the voter behavior positively.
Further, Beaudry indicates that the state parties are fundamental in the making of contacts as well as agreements with various campaign consultants and partners (68). This is also a form of initiating and maintaining sustainable networks and partnerships that are fundamental in enhancing the credibility of the campaign process. In particular, these enable the candidates to have a steady flow of resources as well as money from the different partners and consultants. The professional help that the candidates get from the consultants is very significant too. This equips them with skills and knowledge that is essential in running the campaigns in an effective manner. Thus it places them ahead of their challengers and enhances their competitiveness in this respect.
It can not be disputed that voter registration is an important aspect of the election process. Essentially, it is process that takes place before the elections and verification of details enhances the voter turn out on the material day. The state and local parties assist the candidates by funding the registration of voters before the elections. This increases the volume of voter turn out and enhances the probability of the candidates getting the votes accordingly. Funding of this process also ensures that the candidates have knowledge about the voting processes as this is also availed to them during the registration process. Indirectly, parties ensured that the process is done in an accurate manner and that voters have access to all the information they require. This empowerment enhances public participation in the elections. As such, it also enhances the probability of the candidate getting the votes that could have otherwise been lost if the same could not have been registered in a timely manner.
It is certain that mass media also play a critical role in the campaign process. State and local parties usually provide funds for mass media advertising during campaigns as well as during elections. Statistical evidence shows that close to 99% of the population in the states of Arkansas and New York have access of television media and the radio (Beaudry 67). The information presented in the same is cited to have a significant impact on all segments of the population, irrespective of the social and economic background. Candidates usually employ television as well as radio talks, cable news stations and advertise themselves in newspapers and magazines during the campaign period.
Media advertisement provides an ideal plat form for the candidates to communicate their concerns directly to the public in a bit to win their trust and acceptance. It is ascertained that this has a great influence on the voters that could be undecided with regards to whom to vote for during the elections. In most instances, the content of the message and degree of coverage determines the level of influence that the candidate can have on the voters. Candidates who take such chances to pass on vital information regarding their mode of leadership to the public always tend to have amore positive impact as compared to those that use the chances to make attacks on their opponents.
The latest development in the political arena has been the employment of the internet in advertising. Hershey cites that since 2004, the internet has been an instrumental form of campaigning at a state level in both Arkansas and New York (78). Candidates post advertisements and vital information on specific sites for public review. This has enabled the same to reach a significant percentage of the population that employs this technology in their daily activities. By funding these advertisements and campaign strategies, the state parties have played leading roles in enabling the candidates to reach and have an impact of different segments of the populations in the respective states.
Factors Influencing Support of the Candidates
The kind of support that the state and local parties extend to the candidates is influenced by different factors. The help that the parties accord the candidates can be considered to be different in both states. This is attributed to various factors that are both internal and external in nature. In most cases, this is considered a form of long term and as such, parties tend to help candidates who have a higher probability of winning the elections. As it has come out form the preceding analysis, the kind of help that he candidates are given by the parties differ considerably. At this point, it can be argued that the parties play augmenting roles in the campaign and election process and regardless of the fact that the campaigns are usually candidate centered, it can be ascertained that the roles of parties are fundamental. Therefore, it would be unlikely for a candidate to win the elections if the state or local party refrains from engaging in its campaign process.
Different factors determine the kind of help that the candidates are accorded. Usually, the procedures employed in New York State and those used in Arkansas differ considerably. Essentially, parties in Arkansas lay particular emphasis on the incumbency status of the given candidate. In this regard, if the seat in the specific district is incumbent held, the respective candidate is more likely to be supported by the party, as opposed to when the seat is open. Another factor that is used as a benchmark with regard to the assistance of the candidate by the party is the margin that the candidate has in comparison with the competitors. In his review, Hershey ascertains that candidates that are likely to have high margin of victory in comparison to their competitors have high probability of being assisted by the state parties than their counterparts (91).
However, environmental circumstances within the party also determine the kind of help that the candidate is given. During the interview, Kaine cited that there are inherent differences with regard to how minority and majority parties approach this issue. This greatly affects the state of Arkansas where the majority parties dominate the state politics. In this, it can be argued that majority parties are in a better position to protect their incumbents who could be in a vulnerable position. This is because of the fact that they have relatively more resources than their minority counterparts who have fewer incentives. Resource abundance empowers them to protect open seats that were previously held by their party candidates too.
The competitiveness of the seat has also been cited to be a key determinant factor with regard to financial assistance of the candidates by the state parties in New York. This is because the probability of loosing such seats is usually high and can have adverse implications on the holistic wellbeing of the party. Such seats therefore tend to attract attention and respective candidates are likely to receive help in order to enhance their probability of winning the elections. Essentially, the nature of competition in such instances requires high degree of commitment by the parties. This is defined in terms of not only the resources but the capability of the candidates to win the elections. Thus parties take extra steps to reduce the fear of loosing the seats to the challengers.
The filing fee is essential for a candidate to be considered for the respective votes by the state for local party in both states. Comparatively, the filing fee for candidates in New York State is higher than that in the state of Arkansas. For example, the filing fee in 2008 for the Democratic Party in Arkansas was $2500 while that for the Democratic Party in New York in the similar year was $ 3650. Apart from the filing fees, the estate and local parties also source their revenue form sponsors and subscriptions. In his review, studies ascertain that his is unlikely to change because the stipulations cover up to the 2012 presidential elections.
The nature of politics and elections in different states in the recent past has been influenced by various factors. Apart from the normal political issues, social issues have also emerged and can be considered to be key influential factors during elections. Of great reference is the technological advancement and especially the employment of internet technology that has greatly influenced the voting behavior since its employment in 2004. From the analysis, it is certain that state and local parties play an instrumental role in helping the candidates during the campaigns and elections. Besides providing vital financial aid, they also offer a wide range of professional campaign services that accredit the quality of the campaign strategy that is assumed by the candidate. They also expand the network of the candidates and ensure that they have a steady flow official and other resources that are critical for successful campaigning.
Most importantly, they fund the voter registration process as well as mass media advertising that influences the attitudes of the voters. Thus it is certain that the role that they play in enhancing the welfare of the candidates can not be underestimated. It can be deduced that the success of the candidate depend significantly on the help extended by the parties. Candidates receive different types of help from their respective parties. This is determined by various factors that are social, economic and political in nature. In particular, the competitiveness of the seat amongst other factors determines the resource allocation and the nature of help that the candidates are accorded. Finally, state parties in respective states get their revenue from different sources. Apart from filing fees, they also generate revenue internally from subscriptions and externally form sponsors. At this point, it can be concluded that state and local parties offer substantial help to their candidates.
- Ann, Beaudry. Local and State Politics. USA: Free Press, 2009.
- Marjorie, Hershey. American Party Politics. Cambridge: University Press, 2006.
- Student Name. Telephone Interview with Tim Kaine. 21st April, 2010.
- Student Name. Telephone Interview with John Crews. 21st April, 2010.