AP GOV Separation of Powers and #4-10 Most Popular FRQ Topics

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The Electoral College
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a. The winning ticket must receive a majority of the votes in the Electoral College, not by a majority of the popular vote. b. Winner-take-all system in which the candidate who wins a plurality of the votes in a state wins all of that state’s electoral voters (except for Maine & Nebraska). c. Winner take all system makes it difficult for 3rd Party candidates to succeed. d. Encourages presidential candidates to focus on the largest, most competitive (\”swing\”) states. e. Election is thrown to the House if no candidate wins a majority of electoral votes. Each state has one vote. f. Benefits the small states.
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African American Voting Patterns
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a. Support Democratic presidential candidates since New Deal. b. Tend to support the more liberal (on economic issues) Democrats. c. Have traditionally had lower voting rates
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Voter Turnout
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a. Lower than that of most Western democracies. b. Majority of U.S. electorate does not vote in nonpresidential elections (mid terms). c. People who vote most – better educated, wealthier, older, and church goers. d. a low level of political efficacy, and voter registration are all factors that reduce voter turnout.
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Divided Government
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a. Occurs when different parties control the presidency and Congress. b. Heightens partisanship, slows the legislative process, and contributes to the decline in public trust in government. c. Presidents attempt to overcome the problems posed by divided government by using the media to generate public support, threatening to veto objectionable legislation, and building coalitions with key interest groups.
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Political Action Committees
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a. Business PACs have dramatically increased in number since the 1970s. b. Support of House incumbents is particularly significant. c. Law limits amount of money that PACs can directly contribute to an individual candidate. d. Most all interest groups have a PAC.
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The Veto Power
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a. Example of checks and balances. b. Gives the president the power to veto (kill) a bill and Congress the power to override the presidential veto (by a 2/3 vote in each chamber). c. Pocket veto occurs when Congress adjourns within 10 days of submitting a bill to the president who lets the bill die by doing nothing. d. Presidents often use the threat of a veto to persuade Congress to modify a bill. e. Congress is usually unable to override a presidential veto. f. Most state governors can exercise a line-item veto. g. Congress passed the Line-Item Veto Act (1996) giving the president power to veto individual items in major appropriations bills. h. In the case of Clinton v. City of New York (1998), the SCOTUS struck down the line-item veto as an unconstitutional violation of the principle of separation of powers.
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The President and The Cabinet
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a. President appoints cabinet heads subject to confirmation by the Senate. The president can fire a cabinet head, however, without the Senate approval. [They usually just resign first.] b. Cabinet members often have divided loyalties. Their loyalty to the president can be undermined by their loyalty to the institutional goals of their department. Also remember, they receive funding only from Congress. c. Presidents often experience difficulty in controlling cabinet departments because they form iron triangles with interest groups and congressional committees. [You may want to memorize an example. See chart in textbook. That way you can think your way through any FRQ about one & also have a ready-made example.]

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