Political Parties and the Electoral Process in the USA

Republicans and democrats are the two major political parties in United States that have remained dominant in the current political system. However, the extent to which partisan politics influence the formation of government is recognizable between the two parties because of ideological difference. In fact, party preferences and ideology determine the composition of government, political institutions and real policy influence. In the prevailing political arena the partisan differences over state economic development policies, political and foreign policies still exists. Therefore, this paper seeks to identify ideological differences between Republican and Democrats’ parties and the reason why third parties do not succeed at the presidential level in United States.

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According to Halvorsen & Jacobsen (2013), one of the major ideological differences between Republicans and Democrats is identifiable on the difference in long-term growth strategies. For instance, Republicans in a stylized sense tend to prefer an investment- driven model (neoclassical) that pursues growth through direct friendly business measures such as low corporate and capital taxation. Democrats on their part prefer consumption-driven long-term growth model (Keynesian) that seeks to increase investment and growth through indirect, redistributive measure geared towards increasing the total demand (Halvorsen & Jacobsen, 2013). These ideological differences on economic policies tend to influence foreign direct investment of multinationals as well as other economic growth aspects whenever a new government comes to power, on a new party. However, multinationals mostly prefer most favorable mix of the two models because despite the government change the economic model would not change. In fact, in United States when control for potentially relevant policies and economic variables are examined multinational organizations do not prefer one party to the other (Halvorsen & Jacobsen, 2013). In addition, another ideological difference is on foreign policy. For instance, when president Obama was elected in office he started on US-Russia relations reset. According to Deyermond (2012), President Obama first reset aim was to reverse the sharp deterioration US-Russia relations, which occurred during President Bush administration. However, the increased number of legislative seats occupied by conservative Republicans who tend to have strongly negative views for both Russia and ‘new realist’ foreign policy by Obama administration, the worldview and practice was fundamentally incompatible with their own. In fact, Republicans viewed Russia as antidemocracy and disregard human rights. Essentially, Republican senators and members of the house foreign relations committee are forthright about their perception on Russia (Deyermond, 2012). Unlike in the Republican sponsored government, Obama administration shows total disregard to conservative ideologies held by Republicans about Russia and fosters a warm relations between the two countries.

Moreover, Republicans believe in supply side economic model with drip down effects. Particularly, the Republican supports low federal spending as well as support of big corporations through large grants and tax exemptions. For instance, this ideology pushed Republicans to campaign against affordable care act (Obamacare). On the other hand, Democrats advocate for demand side economics characterized by fairer taxes and national healthcare system. Notably, to date, this polarization of ideology between United States’ major political parties has created a tradition where republicans perform poorly in mid-term elections and subsequently determine the voting during presidential elections.

Notably, United States is most mature democracy in the world, as Wilson, Dellulio & Bose (2012) notes that virtually all Americans seem to agree no exercise of political power is legitimate if it is not founded on democracy .However, despite high touch for democracy third parties have remained in the insignificant during United States presidential elections. In particular, the electoral system in United States has remained extreme over the decades thus promoting single member district popularity system in which third parties remain small and ephemeral. In particular, Plattner (2001) notes the over the last two decades political parties have weakened and they do not command the loyalty as they did in the past. Additionally, rise of partisanship party politics where the president is influential has been fatal to third parties in United States. In fact, in the American politics, third parties fail because they operate on the winner take-all system. Further, since third parties are founded on a single personality or issue, which makes them unpopular in the presidential level.

Ultimately, the domination of two-party system has thrived in United States democracy and political system for decades. This has been facilitated by their influence on party politics and wide representation, which attracts funding from interest groups. As Austin & Tjernstrom (2003) notes Jesse Unruh, a leading California politician in 1960s described money as the “the mother’s milk to politics” which indicated that it was the most significant political resource. Therefore, the campaign process in United States attracts huge but controlled funding from third parties to extend the parties political agenda and ideology during campaign periods. Resultantly, this campaign process has allowed the two major political parties to thrive at the expense of minority parties. For instance, campaigning for public office takes longer time beyond the campaign period specified on the elections campaign calendar, thus, small parties lack enough resources. This allows the two major political parties to embrace a two-party system campaign platform by engaging in ideological campaign to gain public support.




Austin, R., & Tjernstrom, M. (2003). Funding of political parties and election campaign. Handbook Series, 1-245.

Deyermond, R. (2012). The republican challenge to Obama’s Russia policy. Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, 54(5), 67-92. DOI: 10.1080/00396338.2012.728345.

Halverson, T., & Jakobsen, J. (2013). Democrats, Republicans—or both? an empirical analysis of the effects of the composition of state governments on FDI, 1977–2004. International Interactions: Empirical and Theoretical Research in International Relations, 39(2), 167-191. DOI: 10.1080/03050629.2013.768470.

Plattner, M. F. (2001). The trouble with parties. Public Interest, 143, 27-44.

Wilson, J. Q., Dululio, J. J., & Bose, M. (2013). American government: Institution and policies (13th Ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage learning.



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