Ch 10 Elections and Voting Behavior

January 5, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Political Science
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Elections and Voting Behavior

Chapter 10

How American Elections Work 

Three types of elections: – Select party nominees (primary elections; take

place in spring) – Select officeholders (general elections; takes place in Nov.) – Select options on specific policies (special elections)

Special Elections & Ballot Measures 

Referendum: – State voters approve or disapprove proposed legislation. – Often used for constitutional amendments. Initiative petition: – Voters in some states propose legislation to be voted on. – Requires a specific number of signatures to be valid. – Can still be voted down by the people.

The Expansion of Suffrage 

Suffrage or franchise is the right to vote  It has been expanded throughout US history  Today nearly all Americans over the age of 18 can vote in elections

The Expansion of Suffrage 15th Amendment (1870) granted suffrage to African Americans (and other non-whites)  19th Amendment (1920) granted suffrage to women  26th Amendment (1971) set the minimum voting age at 18 (from 21) 

Whether to Vote: A Citizen’s First Choice 

Deciding Whether to Vote – U.S. typically has low voter turnouts—

historically around 50% in most presidential elections. – Some argue it is a rational choice to not vote.

Whether to Vote: A Citizen’s First Choice 

The Decline of Turnout: 1892-2004 (Figure 10.2)

Whether to Vote: Registration 

49 states require registration—officially signing up to vote.

Registration procedures differ from state to state.

 Registration requirements reduce turnout – It requires voters to register well in advance of the

election day. – Motor Voter Act: Requires states to permit people to register to vote when they apply for their driver’s license.

Other reasons cited for not voting… 

Some believe there is little ideological difference between the two parties’ candidates  They believe one vote among millions cast doesn’t matter  They are unable to leave work on a Tuesday to vote

Some reasons people are more likely to vote… 

They perceive an ideological difference between candidates  They have a sense of political efficacy— they believe their vote makes a difference  The want to perform their civic duty in a democracy

Predict who is likely to vote 

Gender  Race (Caucasian, Latino, African American)  Age  Education  Religion (pick three)  Income  Urban or rural

Whether to Vote: A Citizen’s First Choice 

Who Votes? – Education: More education = more likely to

vote. Most important factor. – Age: Older = more likely to vote. – Race: Caucasian = more likely to vote. BUT, other ethnicities are higher with comparable education. – Gender: Female = more likely to vote.

Whether to Vote: A Citizen’s First Choice 

Who Votes? (continued) – Marital Status: Married = more likely to vote. – Union Membership: Union member = more

likely to vote. – Traits are cumulative - possessing several adds up.

Voter Reforms 

Studies show that if turnout increases among groups with low rates, Democrats would probably receive more votes  Republicans are unlikely to support reforms that would cost them this advantage

Whether to Vote: A Citizen’s First Choice

Who Votes How? 

Republicans – Upper income, evangelical Christians,

conservative religious, Cuban Americans 

Democrats – African Americans, Jews, women, Latinos

How Americans Vote: Explaining Citizens’ Decisions 

Mandate Theory of Elections – The idea that the winning candidate has a

mandate from the people to carry out his or her platforms and politics. – Politicians like the theory better than political scientists do.

How Americans Vote: Explaining Citizen's Decisions 1. Party Identification – People generally vote for the party they agree

with. – They don’t have to become informed about every issue – This trend is declining as parties have lost some significance in the political process (with rise of Independents)

How Americans Vote: Explaining Citizen’s Decisions

How Americans Vote: Explaining Citizen's Decisions 2. Candidate’s Personalities – A candidate’s appearance may play an

unconscious role in decision-making – People tend to value integrity, reliability, and competence. – Voters with college education are more likely to base their decision on personality

How Americans Vote: Explaining Citizen's Decisions 3. Policy Preferences – People vote for candidates who share their policy – – – –

preferences. Must know where they and the candidates stand on issues and see differences between candidates. Candidates can be ambiguous on the issues. Today candidates are forced to take a clear stand in the party primaries. Retrospective Voting: choosing a candidate who vows to continue policies helpful to him/her

The Last Battle: The Electoral College 

Electoral College actually elects the President - founders wanted president chosen by the elite of the country  States choose the electors  Winner-Take-All system gives bigger emphasis to more populated states and swing states during campaign

The Last Battle: The Electoral College 

How it works today: – Each state has as many votes as it does Representatives

and Senators. – Winner of popular vote typically gets ALL the Electoral College votes. – Electors meet in December, votes are reported by the vice president in January. – If no candidate gets 270 votes (a majority), the House of Representatives votes for president, with each state getting ONE vote.

Electoral College: Winner Take All 

48 states are winner-take-all  If Candidate A gets 51% and Candidate B gets 49% of vote, Candidate A gets all electoral votes  In Oregon, A=7 B=0

Electoral College: Maine and Nebraska 

Separate vote by House district  Popular vote winner in each district gets the electoral vote  Winner of state popular vote gets final 2 electoral votes  (show map www.270towin.c0m)

2000 Election 

Illustrates a key weakness to the Electoral College—winner of popular vote can lose in the E.C.  Bush won more small states which are overrepresented in E.C.  Gore won more populous states—they are underrepresented in E.C.  Overall popular vote was close

The Last Battle: The Electoral College

Should the Electoral College be Reformed? Think-Pair-Share Activity  Make a list of the greatest benefits and greatest weaknesses of the Electoral College system (3 of each…at least)  Should the system be reformed? How? Defend your answer.

Evaluating the E.C. 

Weaknesses – Doesn’t always represent the popular vote totals – Small states overrepresented / large states underrepresented – Faithless electors – Deflates voter turnout – Campaigns ignore some states Strengths – Winner-Take-All system provides a clear victor – Clear, Quick results – Traditional system / known quantity – Reduced risk of fraud

Understanding Elections and Voting Behavior 

Democracy and Elections – Voters can steer government only when there

are noticeable policy differences between the candidates. – Candidates who vow to continue popular policies are more likely to win elections. – Policies affect voting behavior through retrospective voting. – Bad economies make politicians nervous.

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