A political party is an alliance of like-minded people who work together to win elections and control of the government. Political parties compete against one another for political power and for the ability to put their philosophies and policies into effect.
Many voters demonstrate party identification, even though they do not formally belong to a party. So a voter might claim to be a Democrat, even though she does not pay dues, hold a membership card, or technically belong to that party. Other voters see themselves as independents: These voters do not belonging to any party, and they willingly vote for the best candidate regardless of that person’s party affiliation.
Political socialization influences party identification. Family beliefs, education, socioeconomic conditions, and recent political events all help determine whether a person chooses to identify with a political party.