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Title: Elections%20and%20Voting%20Behavior

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

Special Elections Ballot Measures
  • Referendum
  • State voters approve or disapprove proposed
  • 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
  • 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 Citizens First Choice
  • Deciding Whether to Vote
  • U.S. typically has low voter turnoutshistorically
    around 50 in most presidential elections.
  • Some argue it is a rational choice to not vote.

Whether to Vote A Citizens First Choice
  • The Decline of Turnout 1892-2004 (Figure 10.2)

Whether to Vote Registration
  • 49 states require registrationofficially signing
    up to vote.
  • Registration procedures differ from state to
  • 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
    drivers 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 doesnt
  • They are unable to leave work on a Tuesday to

Some reasons people are more likely to vote
  • They perceive an ideological difference between
  • They have a sense of political efficacythey
    believe their vote makes a difference
  • The want to perform their civic duty in a

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 Citizens 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 Citizens First Choice
  • Who Votes? (continued)
  • Marital Status Married more likely to vote.
  • Union Membership Union member more likely to
  • Traits are cumulative - possessing several adds

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 Citizens First Choice
Who Votes How?
  • Republicans
  • Upper income, evangelical Christians,
    conservative religious, Cuban Americans
  • Democrats
  • African Americans, Jews, women, Latinos

How Americans VoteExplaining 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
  • They dont have to become informed about every
  • This trend is declining as parties have lost some
    significance in the political process (with rise
    of Independents)

How Americans Vote Explaining Citizens Decisions
How Americans Vote Explaining Citizen's Decisions
  • 2. Candidates Personalities
  • A candidates appearance may play an unconscious
    role in decision-making
  • People tend to value integrity, reliability, and
  • 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
  • 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

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, A7 B0

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
    Collegewinner of popular vote can lose in the
  • Bush won more small states which are
    overrepresented in E.C.
  • Gore won more populous statesthey 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
    eachat least)
  • Should the system be reformed? How? Defend your

Evaluating the E.C.
  • Weaknesses
  • Doesnt always represent the popular vote totals
  • Small states overrepresented / large states
  • 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 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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