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Voting and Elections Chapter 13

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1 Voting and Elections Chapter 13
American Government: Continuity and Change 9th Edition to accompany Comprehensive, Alternate, Texas, and Essentials Editions O’Connor and Sabato Pearson Education, Inc. © 2008

2 Voting Behavior Conventional political participation
Political participation that attempts to influence the political process through well-accepted, often moderate forms of persuasion Unconventional political participation Political participation that attempts to influence the political process through unusual or extreme measures, such as protests, boycotts, and picketing

3 Patterns in Voter Turnout
Turnout: the proportion of the voting-age public that votes 40% of the eligible adult population votes 25% are occasional voters 35% rarely vote Education: Voters tend to be more educated Income: More voters have higher incomes Age: Younger people vote less Gender: Women vote at the same rate or slightly higher rate than men Race and Ethnicity: Whites vote more regularly than African Americans – related to income and educational differences in the two groups Hispanics vote less than African Americans Have potential to wield much influence given their increasing size Interest in politics: Those interested in politics vote more



6 Why Is Voter Turnout So Low?
Too Busy Difficulty of Registration Difficulty of Absentee Voting Number of Elections Voter Attitudes Weakened Influence of Political Parties



9 Efforts to Improve Voter Turnout
Easier Registration and Absentee Voting Make Election Day a Holiday Strengthen Parties Other suggestions Holding fewer elections Proportional representation system for congressional elections Saturday or Sunday election day Making voting mandatory Tax credits Election weeks rather than election days Internet voting

10 Does Low Turnout Matter?
Some argue it is a not a critical problem Based on belief that preferences of nonvoters are not much different from those who do vote So…results would be the same regardless Nonvoting is voluntary Nonvoting driven by acceptance of the status quo Others believe it is a problem Voters do not represent nonvoters Social make-up and attitudes of nonvoters today are significantly different from those of voters Tend to be low income, younger, blue collar, less educated and more heavily minority

11 Patterns in Vote Choice
Party Identification Most powerful predictor voter behavior Ticket-splitting: voting for candidates of different parties for various offices in the same election Race and Ethnicity Whites increased tendency to vote Republican African Americans vote overwhelmingly for Democrats Hispanics also tend to identify with and vote for Democrats Kerry 53 percent; Bush 44 percent Asian Americans less monolithic Women today more likely to support Democratic candidates Gender gap varies by election Poor vote more often for Democrats; wealthier for Republicans Ideology related closely to vote choice Conservatives for Republicans Liberals for Democrats Issues Retrospective judgment Prospective judgment Retrospective judgment A voter’s evaluation of the performance of the party in power Prospective judgment A voter’s evaluation of a candidate based on what he or she pledges to do about an issue if elected Three requirements for prospective voting: Voters must have an opinion on an issue Voters must have an idea of what action, if any, the government is taking on the issue Voters must see a difference between the two parties on the issue.

12 Purposes of Elections Regular free elections
guarantee mass political action enable citizens to influence the actions of their government Popular election confers on a government the legitimacy that it can achieve no other way Regular elections also ensure that government is accountable to the people it serves

13 Purposes of Elections Electorate Mandate: Citizens eligible to vote
A command, indicated by an electorate’s voters, for the elected officials to carry out their platforms Sometimes the claim of a mandate is suspect because voters are not so much endorsing one candidate as rejecting the other

14 Kinds of Elections Primary Elections:
Election in which voters decide which of the candidates within a party will represent the party in the general election. Closed primary: a primary election in which only a party’s registered voters are eligible to vote Open primary: a primary in which party members, independents, and sometimes members of the other party are allowed to vote Crossover voting: participation in the primary of a party with which the voter is not affiliated Raiding: An organized attempt by voters of one party to influence the primary results of the other party Runoff primary: a second primary election between the two candidates receiving the greatest number of votes in the first primary

15 General Elections General elections are those in which voters decide which candidates will actually fill elective public offices Held at many levels. Contests between the candidates of opposing parties

16 Initiative, Referendum, and Recall
An election that allows citizens to propose legislation and submit it to the state electorate for popular vote Referendum An election whereby the state legislature submits proposed legislation to the state’s voters for approval Recall Voters can remove an incumbent from office by popular vote Are very rare

17 Presidential Elections
Primary elections or caucuses are used to elect national convention delegates which choose the nominee Winner-take-all primary Proportional representation primary Caucus


19 Primaries v. Caucuses Over years, trend has been to use primaries rather than caucuses to choose delegates Caucus is the oldest, most party-oriented method of choosing delegates to the national conventions Arguments for primaries More democratic More representative A rigorous test for the candidate Arguments for caucuses Caucus participants more informed; more interactive and informative Unfair scheduling affects outcomes Frontloading (being first in the primary calendar) gives some primary states an advantage Frontloading is the tendency to choose an early date on the primary schedule

20 The Party Conventions Out-of-power party holds its convention first, in late July, followed in mid-August by party holding the presidency Conventions were decision-making body in the 19th century Today the convention is fundamentally different Nominations settled well in advance of the convention

21 The Party Conventions: Delegate Selections
Unit Rule A traditional party practice under which the majority of a state delegation can force the minority to vote for its candidate Abolished by the Democrats New Democratic party rule decrees that state’s delegates be chosen in proportion to the votes cast in its primary or caucus. (30% of votes = 30% delegates from that state) – proportional allocation Superdelegates Delegate slot to the Democratic Party’s national convention that is reserved for an elected party official Some rules originating in Democratic Party have been enacted as state laws thus applying them to the Republican Party as well.


23 National Convention: National Candidates and Issues
Political perceptions and loyalties of voters are not influenced largely by national candidates and issues Diminished the power of state and local party leaders at the convention. Issues are more important to the new, issue-oriented party activists than to the party professionals Party professionals no longer have monopoly on managing party affairs

24 National Conventions: The News Media
Changing nature of coverage No prime time coverage on some days Extending coverage on the final day of each convention Reflects change in political culture More interest in the candidates themselves Convention still generates much coverage for the party

25 The Electoral College Representatives of each state who cast the final ballots that actually elect a president Total number of electors for each state equal to the number of senators and representatives that a state has in the U.S. Congress District of Columbia is given 3 electoral votes

26 The Electoral College Result of compromise between:
Selection by Congress versus direct popular election Three essentials to understanding the design of the Electoral College: Constructed to work without political parties Constructed to cover both the nominating and electing phases of presidential selection Constructed to produce a nonpartisan president

27 The Electoral College in the 19th Century
12th Amendment (1804) Attempt to remedy the confusion between the selection of vice presidents and presidents that emerged in the election 1800 Provided for separate elections for each office, with each elector having only one vote to cast for each In event of a tie, the election still went to the House Top three candidates go to House Each state House delegation casts one vote

28 The Electoral College in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
Electoral college crises At times a candidate can win the Electoral College vote without having won the popular vote Reapportionment matters Representation of states in the Electoral College is altered every ten years to reflect population shifts Recent reapportionment has favored the Republicans With the exception of California, George W. Bush carried all of the states that gained seats in 2000

29 The Electoral College Reconsidered
Popular Vote Congressional District Plan Keep the College, Abolish the Electors


31 Congressional Elections
Very different from presidential elections Lesser known candidates, more difficulty getting media attention Incumbency Advantage Staff support Media and travel The “Scare-off” effect Redistricting/Gerrymandering

32 Congressional Elections
When incumbents lose it is generally due to: Redistricting Gerrymandering Scandals Presidential Coattails


34 Midterm Congressional Elections
Election takes place in the middle of a presidential term President’s party usually loses seats in midterms Tendency for voters to punish the president’s party more severely in the sixth year of an eight year presidency - 6th year itch Retrospective voting Senate elections less inclined to the 6th year itch 2002 midterm elections were a remarkable exception Bush picked up seats in the House and Senate 2006 midterm elections




38 Reforming the Electoral Process
Focus on the Electoral College Other areas Nomination Regional primaries Campaign Finance Reform Online Voting Voting by Mail Modernizing the Ballot


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