Monthly Archives: March 2013

Current Events Quiz

This week’s quiz is live in MySearchLab.  Good Luck!

Cyprus and the United States

Outsiders Need Not Apply

Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover

There are three types of Presidents.  The first type is the President who once held  a prior elected position.  That includes those who were elected as Congressmen, US Senators, and Governors.  Then there are those Presidents who were once in the military, but did not hold an elected position at one time.  Included in that category are George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.  The third category of Presidents is Herbert Hoover.  Hoover did not hold any elected government experience nor did he serve in the military.  His highest position in government was his role as Secretary of Commerce.  In the time before Hoover’s election in 1928 and in the time after his defeat in 1932, Presidents have come from either a military or elected background or both.  It seems as if the sign on the White House reads, “Outsiders Need Not Apply”.  Why do believe that is the case?

Political Contributions and Free Speech

What is Capitalism?

Adam Smith believed that the wealth accumulated by a nation was determined its own productivity.  Furthermore, Smith believed that people would be motivated to create this wealth, and subsequently enjoy it as well.  This is fundamental basis for the idea and practice known as capitalism.  Some believe that capitalism works best with the least amount of government interference possible.  Others believe that capitalism, left alone, creates greed.  Where do you stand on the idea of capitalism?  Does it work best without government interaction?  Is greed a result of capitalism? Is there a middle ground between government interaction with capitalism and laissez-faire capitalism? Below is clip from The Phil Donahue Show (1979) where Donahue’s guest is the late University of Chicago Economics Professor Milton Friedman.  Friedman’s response to Donahue may help you with your response.

The Character of a President

How important is the character of a President when studying the governing styles of the nation’s chief executive? For political scientist James David Barber, it is very salient in trying to understand how a President governs.  Presidential character, as Barber defines it, can be divided into four parts.

1.  Active-Positive:  Presidents who fall under this category are very active in their job, have high levels of self-esteem, and work hard towards accomplishing goals.

2.  Active-Negative:  Those who fall under this category tend to be aggressive in their work, but act as if “they were trying to make up for something or to escape from anxiety into hard work.”

3.  Passive-Positive:  In this category, Presidents tend to lack self-esteem but have a positive outlook on the results of political decisions.  They look for rewards from others because of their positive outlook on life, not because of the work that they do.

4.  Passive-Negative:  This is someone who believes that they have place in the political system, but a.) does little in his work and b.) does not enjoy the work that he has to do.  These individuals believe “that they ought to be in politics” despite their sour nature.

In short, Barber goes on to say, “Active-positive Presidents want to achieve results (George Washington, for example).  Active-negatives aim to get and keep power (John Adams).  Passive-positives are after love (Thomas Jefferson).  Passive-negatives (James Madison) emphasize their civic virtue.”

Young Voters and the Republican Party


This table gives you an idea of how each age group voted in the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections.  In both cases, Barack Obama did well with voters between the ages of 18-29.  With 18-29 year olds, both John McCain and Mitt Romney received less than 40 percent of the vote.  Some have said that the Republican Party has a problem connecting with younger voters.  Do you agree with that assessment?

The Purpose of Runoff Elections

Take a look at these two sets of election results.  The first is from the Republican Party primary for Illinois Governor in 2010.  The second is from the Republican Party primary for South Carolina’s open Congressional District 1 seat that was held on Tuesday, March 19.

2010 Gubernatorial Primary — Illinois (Republican Party)

Bill Brady 20.26%
Kirk Dillard 20.24%
Andy McKenna 19.29%
Jim Ryan 17.04%
Adam Andrzejewski 14.47%
Dan Proft 7.73%
Bob Schillerstrom 0.97%

Brady became the party’s nominee with less than 21% of the vote.  His total vote difference over Dillard was a slim 197 votes.  In Illinois, a plurality of votes is sufficient enough for a candidate to become a party’s nominee.  Another way to look at the above result is that almost 80% of the Republican primary vote went to a candidate other than Brady.

2013 Congressional District 1 Primary– South Carolina (Republican Party)

Mark Sanford 36.9%
Curtis Bostic 13.3%
Larry Grooms 12.4%
Teddy Turner 7.9%
Andy Patrick 7.0%
John Kuhn 6.5%
Chip Limehouse 6.1%
Ray Nash 4.7%
Peter McCoy 1.6%
Elizabeth Moffly 1.0%
Tim Larkin 0.7%
Jonathan Hoffman 0.7%
Jeff King 0.4%
Keith Blandford 0.4%
Shawn Pinkston 0.3%
Ric Bryant 0.2%

Since no candidate received 50% of the vote in the South Carolina Republican primary, a runoff election will be held between the Sanford and Bostic on April 2.  In states where there are runoff elections, a candidate must get a majority of the vote in order to avoid a second or runoff election.  A runoff will ensure that a candidate will become a party’s nominee with a majority of the vote.  Runoff elections, as I mentioned, will give the voter a choice between two candidates.   There are, however, arguments against runoff elections.

Criticisms involving a runoff election include:

a.  Cost:  Having a primary and a general election are costly enough.  Adding an extra election in between will also come with a price.

b.  Turnout:  Voter turnout in the South Carolina Special Election Primary on March 19 was 70,399 out of 453,632 registered voters (15.5%).  Turnout was a little higher than expected.  That being said, turnout for the runoff election will be lower on April 2.  Too often, runoff election results are determined by the party faithful who turn out to vote consistently in elections.  The faithful, though, only make up a small portion of the actual number of registered voters in that party.

c.  First and Second Switch:  Low voter turnout could benefit the second place contestant.  There are no guarantees that the results from the first round will remain the same in the second go around.  Such was the case with Virginia Foxx in 2004.  She finished second in a Republican primary for Congress in North Carolina.  The winner of the first round of voting, Vernon Robinson, finished with 24% of the vote, way below the runoff threshold.  Foxx overtook Robinson in the runoff 55-45%.

What is your take on runoff elections?  Do you support them? Should there only be one primary election, as is the case in Illinois, where first place only needs a plurality to become the nominee?

The Power of the Invisible Primary

It is only 2013 and many Democratic and Republican Party leaders are already testing the waters for a Presidential run in 2016.  Many of those who enter into the Presidential fray will drop out before they even officially run.  The others, who do make it to the 2016 primaries and caucuses, can thank the “invisible primary” for their ability to compete in an electoral format.  The invisible primary or the “money primary” does not involve any voting at the ballot box.  Candidates, however, who want to be considered as viable candidates must do well in the invisible primary.

In the months and years before the first votes are cast, candidates try to woo financial backers into supporting their campaigns.  Monetary contributions separate potential candidates from pretenders.  With more financial backing, a candidate can make the early campaign rounds in states like Iowa and New Hampshire.  Those two states hold the first caucus and first primary respectively every Presidential election season.

The added campaign stops then increases the public’s awareness about that candidate.  The increased public awareness subsequently inflates the candidate’s poll numbers.  Positive polling results also separates the top-tier from the second-tier.  This increases the candidate’s chances on Election Day.

Paul Laxalt
Paul Laxalt

The invisible primary can also eliminate good candidates who may have great ideas, but lack the prowess to raise large amounts of money.  An example of this happening would be the failed 1988 Presidential run of US Senator Paul Laxalt (R-NV).  Considered to be an heir to the Ronald Reagan legacy, Laxalt, who was dubbed, “The First Friend”, entered his name into the Presidential race too late, and dropped his bid in 1987 due to a lackluster four months of fundraising.

What are your thoughts on the invisible primary? Do you see any positives or negatives with the invisible primary?

Current Events Quiz

This week’s quiz is live in MySearchLab.  Good Luck!