Presentation on theme: "Do Elections Matter. Elections and Democracy Elections are essential for democratic politics. Elections are the principal means by which popular sovereignty."— Presentation transcript:
Do Elections Matter
Elections and Democracy Elections are essential for democratic politics. Elections are the principal means by which popular sovereignty and majority rule are supposed to work. Can elections ensure that governments will do what the people want?
ELECTIONS AND POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY: Are elections in the US mechanisms that hold our leaders accountable and responsive to the American people? 3 theories: –*Prospective voting/Responsible voting model: Parties provide distinct policy positions problems - winning policy positions may not represent public opinion but rather least unpopular policies do parties have distinct policy positions –*Electoral competition: median voter model - no matter who wins, public policies reflect. For example, Clinton Welfare Reform, Clinton’s Iraq policy, Nixon expands Johnson's great society, Carter’s expansion of military spending, Bush’s support of the Clean Air Act –*Retrospective Voting/Electoral Reward and Punishment:
American Elections in Comparative Perspective The U.S. has more elections than any other democratic nation. Elections in the U.S. are separate and independent from one another. Elections fill government positions that have fixed terms of office. National (and state-wide) elections are held on a fixed date. Elections in the U.S. are almost always based on “first past the post.”
Radical Critique: Election not enough to insure democracy Responsible Party Model?: Policy Ambiguity/lack of clear policy choices during elections. Why? A. Candidate Centered Elections: Elections tend to be personality driven and not policy driven. 1) SMPD – median voter model 2) Weak Parties / Primaries ; 3) Decline in party ID, value of party label 4) lack of alternative parties.
Electoral Competition Model House incumbents win up to 98% of the time Does competition truly exist? Reward and Punishment Model Must be able to identify who is responsible for the current state of affairs. Difficult to do in a separation of power, divided govt., federalist system. Some voters may be prospective voters
Are Voters Rational? Michigan model - Psychological. Party identification is mostly/usually derived from family. You are socialized through your party to identify with a particular political party or ideology. Sociological Model - People will vote for those interests represented by their group. Religion, ethnicity, economic class, gender, sexuality, etc. Rational Choice Model - people will vote to further their interests. Example: Republicans tend to be upper middle class or rich and those voted for Dole because they wanted his proposed 15% tax cut. Dismisses the idea of “core values”.
Elections are not enough Protest is Not Enough, Browing Marchall, and Tabb (1984) Minority protests did not have lasting effects, need to get organized and vote as a block on a regular basis But voting enough?
Glazer and Robbins How Elections Matter: A Study of U.S. Senators. Candidates attempt to discover the preferences of the electorate. Senators will alter their voting pattern to better accord with the ideology of the electorate
Senators will use (at least in the 1980s and earlier) prior elections of their counterpart as information on how the electorate feel (ideology) and will use that information to adjust their behavior Gazer and Robbins develop a GAP measure between a state’ Senators. They believe that this gap will change with new information (incumbent wins or loses reelection).