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What is a Political Platform?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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A political platform is a series of positions on political issues that is used to promote a particular political party or candidate. It often comes in the form of a manifesto, a carefully worded political document that appeals to voters by touching on a number of issues which are important to them. Analysis of these platforms is a topic of interest for many people, especially in presidential election years, when political parties struggle for control of a nation, and their positions are vital tools.

The individual topics within a political platform are sometimes referred to as “planks,” carrying the platform metaphor to its logical conclusion. Common planks include stances on issues like education, the environment, national security, welfare, and so forth, with the positions being adjusted to meet changing cultural values and emerging global issues. In the United States, for example, after the terrorist attacks of 2001, many political parties adopted a tough stance on terrorism as part of their platform.

Typically, each political party has a platform, and individual members of that party have their own positions that are often closely aligned with those of the party. The broad scope of the national platform is designed to attract voters to that party, in the hopes of creating loyalty and potentially generating voters who will automatically pick candidates associated with that party on the strength of the national platform. Individual platforms tend to focus more on regional issues and personal political beliefs of the candidates, with many candidates picking a pet issue, such as poverty, to focus on.

Many people associate specific parties with particular issues since those issues make up the cornerstone of the party's philosophy. For example, some political parties are known for a hands-off approach to national government, with a focus on the rights of individual regions to set their own policies, while others prefer a more centrally organized government. The authors of a political platform strive to appeal to common concerns among the populace while making their party seem like the only patriotic choice for voters.

A platform is typically widely distributed, with journalists and commentators being encouraged to quote from it when they analyze candidates and upcoming elections. Candidates also become familiar with the positions of their opponents so that they can identify weak points of potential attack, and voters will often hear rhetoric about a candidate or party's platform at political rallies.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Historical Index researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon157705 — On Mar 03, 2011

I need some help. I am a college student and am taking American government. I have to find a political platform issue. But I can't seem to really come across anything recent, and I am kind of confused on what to do.

Thank you!! You don't have to do my homework for me, just give me some sites or information to go off of. I have found stuff on the No Kyoto which is with Oil and Energy. But that was from 2004.

By anon116683 — On Oct 07, 2010

I'm doing a paper about voting and politics, and this website helped me understand a lot!

By icecream17 — On Oct 01, 2010

Suntan12-Dick Morris, political adviser to President Bill Clinton said he used to take polls to determine how the American people felt about certain issues.

He added that the Clintons would even do polls to determine where to go on vacation as silly as that sounds. Since the image of the politician is so important many times these political consultants will try to orchestrate every possible aspect of the candidate's life so that it is seen in the most positive light of all.

According to Dick Morris, republican news in the upcoming election should be great. He has said it trends and believes the Republicans could pick up anywhere from 60 to 100 seats.

He actually feels that Republican should be more aggressive in finding more candidates because he does feel that this election will be a landslide in their favor. He does not want the Republicans to under estimate their potential.

By suntan12 — On Oct 01, 2010

Greenweaver-Let me answer that for you. Political jobs like a campaign manager or political consulting really offer political advice to a candidate.

They usually try to get their political message out and prepare the candidate to present this message. The campaign manager for example, will help with fund raising efforts and be in charge of the volunteers.

Here he or she will also determine the advertising platform as well as the advertising collateral to promote the candidate.

The campaign manager may also decide which debates if any should take place and really work hard to get the candidate's positive message across.

The campaign manager may also investigate the opponent and try to deflect some of the opponent’s positives by running negative ads in order to gain more votes for their candidate.

By GreenWeaver — On Oct 01, 2010

Subway-What is a political consultant?

By subway11 — On Oct 01, 2010

Bhutan-Each political party determines its own political platform issues. Political platform examples are beliefs that are ingrained in the party in which most people that belong to the party believe.

For example, the Republican Party platform always believed in smaller government, a strong stance on foreign-policy, and tax cuts for all to stimulate the economy. Like with all political parties there are more conservative wings of the party that are antiabortion and against gay marriage. While these social issues do not play a large role in the Republican political platform the traditional Republican platform would be to be against these two issues.

However there are some moderate Republicans that do believe in a woman's right to choose as well as gay marriage.

By Bhutan — On Oct 01, 2010

Anon66699- I agree with you that there is a lot disconcerting news in politics today.

The American people are very upset with some of the changes in our government and the best way to take action is to actually vote and get those people out of office that are not listening to the American public.

I think this is the reason that there is a rise in Tea party candidates and the Tea party movement in general. It is refreshing to see that people that normally wouldn't take interest in politics news and are not political by nature are starting to take action.

These people really come from all walks of life and share a variety of political ideologies. These are in fact unsettling times in our nation's history but hopefully significant changes will take place for the better. A political jobs will be offered to those that really deserve it.

By anon66699 — On Feb 21, 2010

Our currency says "In God we trust." Somebody tell me why do we elect people who are only in it for themselves and the money?

The only God fearing man retired from the Senate because he himself sees that this country is being controlled by greed and not God anymore.People, wake up!

We the citizens of the United States should have our voices heard in Washington. Stop voting for anyone. Let's run our country ourselves.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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