Presentation on theme: "Donald M. Gooch. The American Voter The Funnel Model of Voting First, you learn your party ID from parents and through socialization. You form a."— Presentation transcript:
Donald M. Gooch
The American Voter The Funnel Model of Voting First, you learn your party ID from parents and through socialization. You form a psychological attachment to this party. As such, your partisanship shapes the development of your attitudes. Your (underlying) attitudes are then reflected in your positions on the six attitudinal dimensions: the personal attributes of the Democratic candidate (Stevenson), the personal attributes of the Republican (Eisenhower), the groups involved in politics and the questions of group interest affecting them, the issues of domestic policy, the issues of foreign policy, and the comparative record of the two parties in managing the affairs of government. Finally, these issue positions are the proximal cause of your voting decision. In fact, these six issue positions predict voting decisions with 87% accuracy--which is even better than asking voters who they intend to vote for.
Party ID Party ID is seen as an "enduring psychological attachment." The political attitudes it determines are measured along six dimensions: 1. How you feel about the Democratic candidate 2. How you feel about the Republican candidate 3. How well each party manages the affairs of government 4. Group interests ("he represents business owners" or "little people": people like me vote for so-and-so). 5. Domestic policy issues 6. Foreign policy issues
Partisan Perception Feelings across these six dimensions tend to be highly correlated. This correlation occurs because partisan feelings are strongly shaped by party identification. (Party ID leads to partisan feelings, not the reverse.) Party ID is treated as a psychological force or tie through which voters interpret political issues (each of the aforementioned dimensions). "Identification with a party raises a perceptual screen [i.e. selective perception] through which the individual tends to see what is favorable to his partisan orientation." In this sense, the party acts as a supplier of cues by which the individual may evaluate the elements of politics.
Origins of Partisanship AV claims that individuals "inherit" a party ID from their parents and the social milieu in which they are raised and that this party ID is characterized by stability and resistance to contrary influence. They do recognize that objective events and conditions can lead a voter to modify her party ID or vote against it if her evaluation of the current elements of politics does not agree with her initial allegiances.
Issues Don’t Matter Campbell et al. find that policies and issues play a small part in most voters' decisions, that only a small fraction of the electorate (12%) displays anything resembling an ideology. Most people when asked about their positions on specific policy issues do not have a consistent pattern of responses in terms of a liberal- conservative dimension. Voters frequently do not know which party stands for what. These findings cast doubt on the efficacy of voting as a mechanism of democratic control of government.
AV: Issue Threshold is High Before an issue affects your vote, three things must happen: 1. You must be aware of and know something about the issue. (It must be "cognized.") 2. You must care about it, at least minimally. (Operationalized: You must have an opinion about a specific piece of legislation. E.g. pg 172: Are you in favor of or opposed to the Taft-Hartley Act?) 3. You must know what the parties say about the issue (does your party support or oppose Taft-Hartley). In essence, you need to know a LOT about an issue in order for it to affect your vote. You need to know the specific law, its attributes, and what it does to policy. It’s not enough to simply know that there is a law called “No Child Left Behind” or “The Patriot Act”…you have to know what that legislation says and what policy it institutes in the law.
Changes in Partisanship Changes in party ID are possible. These changes result from either personal forces (usually changes in an individual's social milieu) or social forces They are usually the result of experiences related to great national crises or those experiences related to progress through the life cycle older voters tend to be more conservative.
Retrospective Voting The social psychological school saw party ID as a simple, thoughtless attachment and challenged rational choice theorists to explain this attachment. This attachment proved a puzzle for rational choice theorists, who characterized it, at best, as a “standing decision”…but the notion of a commitment to one party over the other didn’t fid in RC models. Fiorina takes the social psychologists head on, and provides a rational choice theory that explains not only why party ID is so stable, but also why it changes.
Place in the Literature Key said that citizens are primarily concerned with real policy outcomes (purely retrospective). Key Downs said that citizens use the past only to evalute what a party will do in the future; retrospective voting is merely a cost-cutting variant of prospective voting. Downs Fiorina says that retrospective voting is based on expectations about future welfare guided by evaluations of past policy end-states.
Retrospective vs. Prospective Carrot or the Stick: 1. Reliance on retrospective voting vs prospective voting could lead to differing electoral outcomes 2. Retrospective voting presumes that citizens are more concerned with policy outcomes than policy instruments 3. Retrospective voting presumes that public policy formation is not constrained by the voters
Why Retrospective? If we were dropped into a new democracy with two parties, we might employ "simple issue voting"--that is, we might look at each party's issue platforms. But after some experience having one of the parties in government for four years, we might add to this calculus our estimation of how well the party in power has performed. We might further add an estimate of how well the other party would have performed if it had been in power, weighted according to our uncertainty about this estimate.
Why Retrospective? Then, we can use all this to predict which party is more likely to serve our interests best in the future. Over time, these evaluations are reflected in our party identification, which is a "running tally" of how each party is treating me. Thus, my evaluations of the governing party's recent performance should elicit a change (one way or the other) in my overall evaluation of that party.
The Retrospective Model The model is based on a running tally of retrospective evaluations of party performances and promises. It looks at an individual's past experiences with political parties plus secondary factors such as parent's affiliation. His model allows party ID to change continuously.
SRE & MRE SIMPLE RETROSPECTIVE EVALUATIONS (SRE): Based mainly on personal finance, war, civil rights, and similar things. These are things that voters have direct experience with, so their retrospective evaluations are unmediated by the media or anything. MEDIATED RETROSPECTIVE EVALUATIONS (MRE) are those evaluations that depend on some intermediary; for example, I need the media to provide me with information about the macroeconomy, but I can also use my SREs to make mediated judgments I can use my experience with personal finance to make judgments about the national economy. MREs are mediated by a citizen's choice of information sources and opinion leaders.
The Reasoning Voter Popkin relies on a theory of low information rationality to explain how voters are able to make rational choices between candidates. Voters do this by using information shortcuts that they receive during campaigns, usually using something like a "drunkard's search." Voters use small amounts of personal information to construct a narrative about candidates. Essentially, they ask themselves this: "Based on what I know about the candidate personally, what is the probability that this presidential candidate was a good governor? What is the probability that he will be a good president?"
Political Knowledge Despite a more educated electorate, knowledge of civics has not increased significantly in forty years. According to Popkin, theorists who argue that political competence could be measured by knowledge of "civics book" knowledge and names of specific bills (i.e. the Michigan studies) have missed the larger point that voters do manage to gain an understanding of where candidates stand on important issues. He argues that education has not changed how people think, but it does allow us to better interpret and connect different cues.
Information as a By-Product Popkin argues that most of the information voters learn about politics is picked up as a by- product of activities they pursue as a part of daily life homeowners learn about interest rates, shoppers learn about prices and inflation etc.--thus, people know how the economy is doing. Media helps to explain what politicians are doing and the relevance of those actions for individuals, and campaigns help to clarify the issues. Voters develop affinity towards like-minded opinion leaders in media and in personal interactions.
Party ID as a Running Tally Popkin views party identification as a running tally of party assessment and looks at party identification of candidates as providing an important default value which voters use to evaluate them. He sees "a sophisticated pattern of transmission from past elections and interactions among and between people in the current election"
Popkin’s Argument Popkin argues that voters often function as clinicians (who gather limited information and infer from it a broader narrative), in contrast to statisticians (who weigh only facts in order to make a decision). He illustrates a few concepts to explain this relationship: Representativeness Heuristic Gersham’s Law of Information Framing Pseudocertainty Drunkard’s Search
Representation Heuristic Voters often compare a candidate to a pre- existing stereotype of how certain people act. For instance, they may compare a presidential candidate to their image of what a president should be like, or compare a candidate to their stereotype of how someone who "does the right thing" would act. Essentially, we take our pre-existing idea of what a president should be, then compare it with personal information about the candidate using a "goodness of fit" test.
Gersham’s Law of Information A small amount of personal information can drive out a large amount of previous impersonal information, because personal information is much more helpful than political information in constructing narratives. Because personal information is so important (much more than a political record is), even new challengers can rapidly catch up with incumbents in the polls--though only the incumbent has a political record, voters get personal information about both candidates. Voters judge candidates more on how "presidential" they look than on their actual record.
Framing Framing is the way that we look at the president. For example, heavy media coverage of economic problems leads us to not only update our evaluation of the president's handling of the economy, but also to weight this issue-specific evaluation more heavily when making a broader evaluation of the president's overall performance. Popkin discusses five frames that matter. 1. Candidate vs president. When incumbents speak only from the Rose Garden, they are seen as presidents. When they are seen on the campaign trail, they are mere candidates. 2. Candidate's personality vs candidate's record (see above). Personality matters more. 3. Candidate vs nominee. Political conventions can change the way you are viewed (a candidate becomes a nominee). 4. Domestic vs international issues. Which one matters for this campaign? 5. Inflation vs unemployment vs poverty. Which economic problem is current affects how candidates are viewed.
Pseudocertainty (Calculation Shortcuts) When we can use one of these shortcuts, we are more confident in our evaluations (although, ironically, our evaluations are probably more likely to be incorrect): 1. When all our information is consistent (i.e. all supports one candidate) 2. When probabilities are close to 0 or 1. We don't understand finer probabilities well and are uncomfortable with them. 3. A good sure thing vs a probabilistic better thing. We like the sure thing better, even though the expected value of the gamble is better.
Drunkard's Search The term is based on the image of a drunk looking for his lost car keys where the streetlight is shining, even though that's not where he lost them; he looks there because that's where the light is. People are more likely to use one-dimensional searches, such as focusing on a single attribute about a candidate, or using the front runner's characteristics as a measurement of other candidates. Symbols are often drawn upon to represent issues (e.g. the hostages representing Carter's incompetence in foreign affairs.). Our decision about where to look for information (i.e. which streetlight to use) determines which decicion we make.
Campaigns & Issues Popkin also focuses significantly on the role of the campaign in facilitating choice. He argues that the campaign (1) increases the importance of (some) issues, (2) strengthens the connections between issues and the office, and (3) increases the perceived differences between candidates.
Campaigns & Issues 1. Increasing importance of issues: In the Columbia studies, the authors found that voters have varying degrees of attachment to the parties--and that, if the campaign demonstrates the importance of particular issues right now, then crossover voting is most likely if you aren't confident in your party's ability to handle those issues. 2. Strengthen connections between issues and office: Though voters can imagine connections between certain policies and certain offices, it's hard for them to know which offices are responsible for certain things. News and campaigns can remind voters that a particular office can influence a particular policy area. 3. Increase perceived differences: Demonstrate to voters that the candidates are likely to do different things about the issues that are important.