Political Parties

A political party is a political organization that seeks to influence government policy, normally by nominating candidates and attempting to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, public education and political action. Parties often establish written platforms with specific goals and expressing political ideology.

The term “party organization” refers to a party unit that has not triggered federal registration and reporting requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act. A party organization becomes a “political party committee” when its activity in connection with a federal election exceeds one of the these two thresholds and is registered with the Federal Elections Commission.

  • A party organization at the state or national level becomes a political committee when, during a calendar year, it spends more than $1,000 in contributions and other expenditures; or raises more than $1,000 in contributions.
  • A local party organization becomes a political committee when, during a calendar year, it raises more than $5,000 in contributions; spends more than $5,000 on exempt party activities; makes more than $1,000 in contributions; or spends more than $1,000 in other expenditures.

Political party committees are distinct from political action committees, which are independent of political parties and subject to different federal laws and rules.

The Republicans and Democrats are the two main political parties. They have dominated American politics since the 1860s. Every president since 1852 has been a member of one of these two parties.

Active U.S. political parties

Inactive political parties


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