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Elections, Campaigns and Voting Behavior

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1 Elections, Campaigns and Voting Behavior

2 Guidelines for Elections
The Constitution: Election of members of the House of Representatives every two years Creates/defines the electoral college 17th Amendment (1913) By Law… Congress sets the date for national elections (Tues. after the first Mon. in November every even-numbered year). Most electoral guidelines and rules belong to the individual states.

3 How American Elections Work
Three types of elections: Select party nominees (primary elections) Select officeholders (general elections) Select options on (specific policies) Referendum: a direct vote in which the electorate will accept or reject a proposal; could be recall of an elected official or govt. Initiative petition: a means by which a petition signed by a minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote (aka proposition).

4 The Primaries Where is the first primary election?
Closed primaries: Only people who have registered with the party can vote for that party’s candidates; encourages voter loyalty. Open primaries: Voters decide on Election Day - Democrat or Republican candidates – but you must choose one or the other. Blanket primaries: Voters are presented with a list of candidates from all parties; most anti-party of them all. Where is the first primary election?

5 How Americans Vote: Policy Voting
Basing your vote choice on issue preferences and where the candidates stand on policy issues. Policy voting may occur if: Voters know where they and the candidates stand on issues and see differences between candidates Unlikely to occur because: Candidates can be ambiguous on the issues (elephonkey) Media tend to focus on the “horse race” not issues.

6 How Americans Vote: Retrospective Voting (performance): voting based on a candidate’s past actions. Those who feel worse off are likely to vote against incumbents. Bad economies make politicians very nervous.

7 How Americans Vote: Party Identification
Prospective Voting (ideas): voting based on what a candidate will do. Party Identification People still generally vote for a party they agree with. With the rise of candidate-centered politics, parties’ hold on voters declined in the 1960s and 1970s (dealignment). More Independent voters and split-ticket voting.

8 How Americans See the Candidates
Voters want a good visual image but…expect: integrity, reliability, competence. Campaigns have three effects on voters: Reinforcement, Activation, Conversion.

9 Whether to Vote: A Citizen’s First Choice
From Government in America, 13th edition.



12 The Electoral College


14 The Last Battle: The Electoral College
How it works today: Each state has as many votes as it does Representatives and Senators. TOTAL: 538 Winner of popular vote typically gets all the Electoral College votes for that state. Faithless Elector? Electors meet in December, votes are reported by the vice president in January. If no candidate gets a majority (270 votes), the House of Representatives votes for president, with each state casting one vote.

15 Winner Take All Method: Proportional Vote Method:
The presidential candidate who wins the most votes in the state wins all of the state’s electors even if one candidate only beats the other by ONE vote. This method is used in 48 States and the District of Columbia. Maine and Nebraska assign their electors differently, but have few electoral votes. Legislative seats are given to parties in proportion to the # of votes they receive in the election.

16 Parties choose their electors the summer before November election.
Election Day – People vote for that candidate’s electors. Electors go to State capital to officially vote for their presidential candidate on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December. Votes are transmitted to Washington, D.C. where the House and the Senate officially announce them on January 6th at 1:00 p.m. Technically, the president is not elected until that official announcement.

17 Reforming The Electoral College
Winner-Take-All Popular Vote (plurality or majority) Proportional Vote

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