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The existence of only two dominant parties stems largely from election rules that provide for single-member districts and winner-take-all elections.Each "district" can have only one winner in any election, the person who receives the most votes.
The Republican party's pro-business positions played well in the industrial North and Midwest, while the Democrats held the "solid South." The large number of immigrants who came to the United States, together with the growing industrial workforce, laid the basis for strong, largely Democratic political machines in New York, Chicago, and other large cities.
The Great Depression brought about a major shift in political party allegiance.
If a party wins 10 percent of the vote in an election where 100 seats are at stake, it gets to have 10 of the seats.
In a multiparty system, parties may form a The Electoral College is also a factor in sustaining the two-party system.
One group, led by John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, favored business development, a strong national government, and a loose interpretation of the Constitution.
The followers of Thomas Jefferson, known as Democratic Republicans, called for a society based on small farms, a relatively weak central government, and a strict interpretation of the Constitution.This period saw important changes in how political parties operate.In the presidential election of 1832, candidates were chosen through a national convention of representatives from the states' parties, and a party platform, a statement of the party's beliefs and goals, was issued.They quickly added a series of Western states to the Union, states that they expected would remain firm in their support for Republicans.They also set up (often corrupt) governments in the South that would regulate state elections in a manner beneficial to the party. The Democrats and Republicans alternated control of Congress, but only two Democratic presidents — Grover Cleveland (1884–1888, 1892–1896) and Woodrow Wilson (1912–1920) — were elected up to 1932.Even if the popular vote in a state is very close, the winner gets all of the state's electoral votes.This arrangement makes it extremely difficult for a third party to win.The Whig Party (1834) supported business, a national bank, and a strong central government.When the Whigs broke up in the 1850s, they were replaced by the Republican Party.So no matter how popular a third party, it will not win a single seat in any legislature until it becomes powerful enough in a single district to take an election.By contrast, many democracies have proportional representation, in which officials are elected based on the percentage of votes their parties receive, and more than two dominant parties.