Presentation on theme: "12 Elections and Voting Voting is a key feature of democratic government. In a democracy, regular elections are held to enable citizens to vote for their."— Presentation transcript:
112Elections and VotingVoting is a key feature of democratic government. In a democracy, regular elections are held to enable citizens to vote for their representatives in government.
212Learning ObjectivesTrace the roots of American elections, and distinguish among the four different types of elections12.1Outline the electoral procedures for presidential and general elections12.2We will begin this chapter by taking a historical look at American elections, and dividing elections into four types. Next we will examine procedures for general elections, and contrast presidential and congressional elections. We will learn why incumbents have an advantage. Then we will discuss how voters make choices. Finally, we will consider voter turnout and learn ways that it might be improved.
312Learning ObjectivesCompare and contrast congressional and presidential elections, and explain the incumbency advantage12.3Identify seven factors that influence voter choice12.4
412 Learning Objectives Identify six factors that affect voter turnout 12.5Explain why voter turnout is low, and evaluate methods for improving voter turnout12.6
5Roots of American Elections 12.1Roots of American ElectionsPurposes of ElectionsTypes of ElectionsThe frequency with which Americans select their leaders has undoubtedly contributed to the growing sense of apathy many seem to feel on Election Day. After all, how can anything that happens so often—every November, in fact, if not more often at the local level—be truly remarkable, sacred and worth the minor inconvenience of leaving for work early or cutting out a little late? Ask citizens of other countries that are not democracies how remarkable they find the fact that Americans hold more elections at all levels of government than any other nation on earth.The number of Americans eligible to vote has grown over time. And yet, for all the blood shed to give all citizens the right to influence their government in this way, only about half of all eligible voters bother to cast a ballot.In this first section, we will examine the purposes of elections and distinguish among different types of elections.
6Purposes of Elections 12.1 Popular election Fill public offices Provides unique legitimacy to governmentProof of popular sovereignty, or consent of the governedElectorate, or citizens eligible to vote, judge those in powerFill public officesElections provide voters a choice in policyWinners claim a mandate, or command from the voters to enact their policy platformWhile the simple purpose of elections is to fill public offices and organize our government, the heart of elections goes much deeper than that. A popular election grants legitimacy to a government in a way no other political leadership process can. Popular elections offer proof of popular sovereignty, and in doing so reaffirm the idea of consent of the governed. Elections offer the electorate, or those eligible to vote, a choice in direction and policy. Winners of the elections will claim a mandate, or command from the voters to enact their policy platform.
7Types of Elections 12.1 Primary Elections General Election Closed primariesOpen primaries – crossover votingRunoff primaryGeneral ElectionThe American electoral process has two stages: the primary election stage and the general election stage.In a primary, voters decide which candidate from within a specific party will go on to challenge a candidate of an opposing party. There are several kinds of primaries. In a closed primary, only voters registered with a particular party can cast a ballot. In an open primary, however, independent voters and sometimes even voters registered with the opposing party can vote.Some social scientists suggest that closed primaries are better because they are protected against crossover voting. This means a voter can vote in a primary of a party with which the voter is not affiliated, and not always with good intent. In some states voters may have the chance to vote in a runoff primary – a contest between the top two vote-getting candidates – when the regular primary fails to produce a winner.Following the primary election comes the general election, in which all registered voters may participate.
8Types of Elections 12.1 Initiative and Referendum Recall Initiative placed on ballot by citizensReferendum placed on ballot by legislatureRecallIn addition to primaries and general elections, there are initiative and referendum elections, in which the electorate votes directly on proposed legislation or state constitutional amendments. An initiative is placed on the ballot by citizens, while a referendum is placed on the ballot by the state legislature.Finally, there is a recall, an election in which voters can remove an incumbent from office prior to the next regular election.8
912.1 How are ballot measures used? Citizens and state legislators use ballot measures to make public policy on a wide range of controversial issues. Here, a sign expresses opposition to Amendment One, a 2012 North Carolina ballot measure that prohibited same-sex marriage in that state.
1012.112.1 When state lawmakers place a proposal on the ballot for voter approval, it is called a:Open primaryInitiativeReferendumRecallWhat have you learned about the different types of American elections?
1112.112.1 When state lawmakers place a proposal on the ballot for voter approval, it is called a:Open primaryInitiativeReferendumRecallA measure placed on the ballot by state lawmakers is called a referendum.
12Presidential Elections 12.2Presidential ElectionsPrimaries and CaucusesElecting a President: The Electoral CollegeAnyone with a television can appreciate the unique character and length of the American presidential election season. Every four years ambitious politicians vie for votes in a series of state contests that run through the winter and spring. They seek first to win delegates to attend their party’s national convention in late summer. The candidate who wins the most delegates will go on to face the opposing national party’s candidate in November and, the candidate hopes, become the next president of the United States. In this section we will discuss the primaries and caucuses that lead up to the national convention, and the electoral college that, ultimately, chooses the next president.
13Primaries and Caucuses 12.2Primaries and CaucusesMethods to select delegatesWinner-take-all primaryProportional representation primaryCaucusSelecting a systemFrontloadingThe Constitution leaves it up to the states to run elections. State political party organizations use several different methods to pick the delegates who will attend the national convention. Some states use the winner-takes-all primary, in which the candidate who wins the most votes in a states secures all of that state’s delegates. Democrats no longer use this process, but it is favored by Republicans.Democrats prefer another method, the proportional representation primary, in which candidates who reach at least a minimum percentage of votes secure that same percentage of delegates. This may be fair, but it does tend to lengthen the presidential nomination process.Finally, there are caucuses, which have become more open in recent years but historically were closed-door sessions of party activists. States must select from among these three types of selection processes, and the trend has been moving toward the more open primaries.That trend has been accompanied by another, called frontloading, in which states choose the earliest date possible on the nomination calendar in order to gain the most press attention for their state. This can give the frontrunner candidate an advantage.
1412.2 FIGURE 12.1: When do states choose their nominee for president? Figure 12.1 shows when the different states held their nomination contests in 1976 and in The trend toward frontloading, or moving the nomination day to an early spot on the calendar, is evident.
15Electing a President: The Electoral College 12.2Electing a President: The Electoral CollegeHistorical challengesThomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, 1800John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, 1824George W. Bush and Al Gore, 2000It may seem hard to believe, given all the television ads during presidential election season, but Americans do not directly elect the president. That honor falls to the Electoral College, a uniquely American institution comprised of representatives from each state who cast the final ballots that actually elect the president. The total number of electors for each state is equivalent to the number of senators and representatives the state has. A candidate needs at least 270 votes of the Electoral College to win the presidency.The Electoral College was created as a compromise between Framers who wanted Congress to choose the president and those who wanted a direct, popular election.The system has not been without flaws and challenges. For example, in 1800 Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr received an equal number of Electoral College votes, and the House of Representatives had to break the tie.In 1824, neither Andrew Jackson nor John Quincy Adams received a majority of the votes, and again the House was called in. And in 2000, George W. Bush was declared the winner of the Electoral College vote some five weeks after election, even though it was clear he had lost the popular vote.
16Electing a President: The Electoral College 12.2Electing a President: The Electoral CollegeShould the Electoral College be reformed?Abolish in favor of popular voteCongressional district planMany questioned whether the Electoral College should be reformed, especially following the 2000 election. Two plans have been suggested. The simplest plan, abolishing the Electoral College and using the popular vote, would require a constitutional amendment and is considered unlikely.The other option, the congressional district plan, would keep the Electoral College but give each candidate one electoral vote for each congressional district he or she wins. Additionally, the overall winner of the popular vote for each state would receive two bonus electoral votes.16
1712.2FIGURE 12.2: How is voting power apportioned in the electoral college?Figure 12.2 shows the respective electoral weights of the fifty states in the 2012 presidential election.
1812.212.2 The numbers of electors from each state to the Electoral College is:Equivalent to the number of representativesEquivalent to the number of representatives and senatorsEquivalent to the number of congressional districts a candidate wins, plus two bonus electors for the overall popular vote winnerNone of the aboveLet’s see what you have learned about the Electoral College.
1912.212.2 The numbers of electors from each state to the Electoral College is:Equivalent to the number of representativesEquivalent to the number of representatives and senatorsEquivalent to the number of congressional districts a candidate wins, plus two bonus electors for the overall popular vote winnerNone of the aboveEach state sends to the Electoral College a number equivalent to its representatives plus its senators.
20Congressional Elections 12.3Congressional ElectionsThe Incumbency AdvantageWhy Incumbents LoseCertainly when compared to presidential elections, battles to pick congressional representatives are held in obscurity. While individual candidates may get media attention because of a special situation—celebrity sports heroes or television stars, for example—most candidates for Congress struggle to build sufficient name recognition to win the election. As you will see in this section, incumbents enjoy an enormous advantage. But they can, and sometimes even do, lose.
21The Incumbency Advantage 12.3The Incumbency AdvantageStaff SupportVisibilityScare-off effectWithout a doubt, candidates who are already in office, also known as the incumbents, have a huge advantage in congressional elections.As a member of the House, incumbents are allowed to hire up to 18 permanent and four non-permanent aides to work in their Washington and district offices. These staffers directly or indirectly promote the incumbent through constituent services, such as tracking a lost Social Security check or helping a veteran receive his or her benefits.Incumbents also have the advantage of visibility. They have ready access to the local media, and a travel budget that allows them to visit the home district frequently. Finally, incumbents also enjoy the so-called “scare-off” effect, in which potential challengers decide not to subject themselves to the incumbent’s institutional advantages.
2212.3 What are some of the advantages of incumbency? Incumbent office holders enjoy many advantages, including credit claiming, name recognition, staff and support, and, in some cases, district lines that are drawn to enhance their electability. Here, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) asks steelworkers for their support during his 2012 reelection bid. Key to Brown’s victory were policies he had supported while in Congress, including restrictions on trade with China, popular with manufacturing workers and unions in his home state.
23Why Incumbents Lose 12.3 Redistricting Scandals Presidential Coattails Mid-Term ElectionsIncumbents do lose. They can be pushed out via redistricting, which occurs every ten years when state lawmakers redraw the districts following the census. Incumbents can lose or even give up their seat mid-term by scandal, particularly sex scandals.Incumbents can also lose due to trickle-down effects of presidential coattails. If the president is unpopular and fails to win re-election, that could mean the public is unwilling to re-elect others in the president’s party. For that same reason, mid-term elections can pose a threat to incumbents who share the president’s party.
2412.3TABLE 12.1: How does the president affect congressional elections?Table 12.1 shows how presidents have affected congressional elections from 1948 until 2012.
2512.312.3 Which of the following is not typically a reason for an incumbent to lose an election?RedistrictingPresidential Coattails“Scare-Off” EffectMid-Term ElectionsPlease answer this multiple choice question to demonstrate what you have learned about the incumbent advantage.
2612.312.3 Which of the following is not typically a reason for an incumbent to lose an election?RedistrictingPresidential Coattails“Scare-Off” EffectMid-Term ElectionsThe scare-off effect is a term for an incumbent’s ability to scare away potential challengers due to the incumbent’s institutional advantages.
27Patterns in Vote Choice 12.4Patterns in Vote ChoiceParty IdentificationIdeologyIncome and EducationRace and EthnicityGenderReligionIssuesThe act of voting may seem straightforward enough. Voting is considered conventional political participation, or activism that seeks to influence the political process through commonly accepted methods. Voters may also choose to participate in unconventional political participation, which can be unusual or extreme and can include protests, boycotts, and picketing.But how do voters decide how to vote? That is the question we will address in this section. Party affiliate and ideology top the list of influences, but there is also income and education; race and ethnicity, gender, religion, and specific policy issues.
28Party Identification and Ideology 12.4Party Identification and IdeologyParty IdentityMost powerful predictor of vote choiceDoesn’t fully eliminate ticket splittingIdeologyLiberals favor government involvement in social programsConservatives favor ideals of individualism and market-based competitionParty identity and affiliation, and political ideology, are hands-down the most powerful predictors of how a person will vote. Party identity may not fully eliminate ticket-splitting, which is voting for candidates of different parties on the same ticket, but it also can help guide voters on races in which the voters are uninformed.Ideology also motivates voters at the ballot box. Generally speaking, liberals tend to support government involvement in social programs that promote tolerance and social justice. Conservatives tend to support the ideals of individualism and market-based competition.
2912.4FIGURE 12.3: How do demographic characteristics affect voters’ choices?Here we can see how demographic characteristics can be powerful predictors of citizens’ choices at the voting booth. Partisanship is the most significant predictor of these choices.
30Income and Education 12.4 Lower income voters Higher income voters Tend to vote DemocraticHigher income votersTend to vote RepublicanEducationMost educated and least educated tend to vote DemocraticVoters in the middle, such as those with a bachelor’s degree, tend to vote RepublicanSocial scientists have noted that income had been a consistent predictor of voter choice. Put simply, the poor vote Democratic, while the well-off vote heavily Republican. As income and education are connected, it’s not surprising that a similar pattern exists for education. The very educated and the least educated citizens tend to vote Democratic, while those with a moderate amount of education, such as a bachelor’s degree, tend to vote Republican.
31Race, Ethnicity and Gender 12.4Race, Ethnicity and GenderRaceWhites more likely to vote RepublicanAfrican Americans and Hispanics more likely to vote DemocraticGenderWomen more likely to vote DemocraticMen more likely to vote RepublicanDistinct voting patterns exist for groups based on their race and ethnicity and their gender. While whites have shown an increasing tendency to vote Republican, the opposite is true for African Americans. They tend to vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Hispanics also tend to vote for Democrats, but not as consistently as African Americans do. When it comes to men and women, the voting gender gap seems alive and well. Women overall tend to lean toward the Democratic side, while men tend to vote more frequently with Republicans.
3212.4 How does gender influence electoral outcomes? The gender gap is one of the most powerful and consistent patterns in American elections. Women are significantly more likely to support Democratic candidates than their male counterparts. Thus, as reflected in this t-shirt, which declares, “Women will decide the election for Obama,” female voters received much of the credit for Democrats’ victories in 2012.
33Religion and other Issues 12.4Religion and other IssuesReligionJewish voters strong Democratic Party supportersProtestants more likely to vote RepublicanCatholics divided – social justice versus abortionOther IssuesEconomy often key issueRetrospective judgment versus prospective judgmentSocial scientists have long observed patterns in voting among religious groups, but this may be starting to decline. Generally speaking, Jewish voters consistently tend to vote Democratic, while Protestants lean more heavily toward Republicans. Catholics are more divided. Many vote Democratic because they are attracted to the ideals of social justice. But other Catholics are strongly opposed to abortion, and vote Republican in response to that issue.While those strong feelings may influence an individual, there are other issues that motivate voters that are not directly connected to group identity. Often the economy is an issue that motivates individuals to vote a particular way. Voters tend to reward the president’s party during good economic times, and punish that party during bad economic times. This is called retrospective judgment because it is based on past performance. At other times, voters use prospective judgement by voting based on what a candidate says he or she will do if elected.
3412.412.4 When voters reward or punish a political party at the polls based on paast achievements or failures, they are using what?Ticket-splittingRetrospective judgmentProspective judgmentNone of the aboveWe have discussed many ways that voters make choices at the ballot box. Let’s answer a question about one of those methods of decision-making.
3512.412.4 When voters reward or punish a political party at the polls based on past achievements or failures, they are using what?Ticket-splittingRetrospective judgmentProspective judgmentNone of the aboveVoters use retrospective judgment when they reward or punish a party for past accomplishments.
36Voter Turnout 12.5 Income and Education Race and Ethnicity Gender Age Civic EngagementInterest in PoliticsWhen we speak of voter turnout, we are referring to the proportion of eligible voters that actually cast a ballot. While some states may add additional restrictions for felons, generally speaking any citizen who is at least 18 years old is eligible to vote.Unfortunately, just because people can vote doesn’t mean they do. Voter turnout in the United States, at 40 percent, is much lower than in other industrialized democracies. In this section, we will examine some factors that influence voter turnout, such as income and education, race and ethnicity, gender, age, civic engagement and interest in politics.
3712.5 TABLE 12.2: How do states regulate voter eligibility? Table 12.2 shows how many states place a given restriction on voting.Activity: Have students write a think piece in class exploring the question of whether there is ever a valid reason to deny someone the ability to vote. Students should be prepared to share their opinions with other members of the class.
38Income and Education, Race and Ethnicity 12.5Income and Education, Race and EthnicityIncome and EducationRace and EthnicityIndividuals with more money are more likely to believe that the system works for them and are, therefore, more likely to vote. People with incomes over $65,000 vote more than citizens with incomes under $35,000. And college graduates are more likely to vote than those with less education.When it comes to race and ethnicity, whites tend to vote more than African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities. Social scientists have pointed to the long- term consequences of voting barriers, especially in areas of the Deep South. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which did away with discriminatory voting barriers, that African Americans began voting in significant numbers.
3912.5FIGURE 12.4: How has the racial and ethnic composition of voters changed?Figure 12.4 shows that although white Americans continue to constitute a majority of the U.S. electorate, black, Hispanic, and Asian voters have accounted for significant percentages of the electorate during recent campaigns. This diversity alters both the voices heard from the voting booth and the demands placed on government.
40Gender, Age, Civic Engagement and Interest in Politics 12.5Gender, Age, Civic Engagement and Interest in PoliticsGenderAgeCivic EngagementInterest in PoliticsBesides income, education, race and ethnicity, several key factors influence voter turnout. Those include gender, age, civic engagement and interest in politics. When it comes to gender, women have begun voting more than men, in contrast to their historically lower turnout. Because women constitute slightly more than 50 percent of the population, women account for a majority of the electorate.Age is also a key factor – the youngest eligible voters tend to vote with the least frequency. Voter turnout increases for people over 30, and declines again after the age of 70. It likely is no surprise that individuals who are involved in civic groups and those who identify as being very interested in politics tend to have high and consistent voter turnout.
4112.5 All of these are a factor in voter turnout except: Age and raceIncome end educationGeographic locationAll of the aboveLet’s see what you have learned about factors that influence voter turnout.
4212.5 All of these are a factor in voter turnout except: Age and raceIncome end educationGeographic locationAll of the aboveGeographic location has not been shown to have an impact on voter turnout.Activity: Democratic political systems are defined by the participation of the people in the political process. Yet in a democracy, nonparticipation can also be an effective political strategy. Have your students consider this proposition through the following questions:• Should individuals who choose not to vote have the right to complain about the outcome of an election?• Is nonvoting ever a valid form of political expression? If so, explain how. If not, explain why not.
43Toward Reform: Problems with Voter Turnout 12.6Toward Reform: Problems with Voter TurnoutWhy Don’t Americans Turn Out?Ways to Improve Voter TurnoutIt can be difficult for elections officials and even candidates to inspire people to actually turn out to vote. That is especially true for mid-term elections, which garner just 40 to 45 percent of eligible voters. Even a presidential election may see just 50 or 60 percent of voters show up. In this final section, we will talk about some of the causes and possible solutions for low turnout.
4412.6 FIGURE 12.5: Why don’t people vote? During November of each federal election year, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a Current Population Survey that asks a series of questions related to voting and registration. Figure 12.5 shows how, in the November 2008 survey, respondents were asked whether they voted in the 2008 election and, if not, what their reasons were for not voting. The most common reason for not voting was being too busy.
4512.6 How do citizens vote by absentee ballot? Citizens who will be unable to make it to the polls on Election Day may file an application to vote by absentee ballot. Local Boards of Elections mail ballots to these individuals; citizens fill out the ballot and return them by mail. Here, election officials sort and organize completed absentee ballots.
46Ways to Improve Voter Turnout 12.6Ways to Improve Voter TurnoutMake Election Day a HolidayEnable Early VotingPermit Mail and Online VotingMake Registration EasierModernize the BallotStrengthen PartiesA number of solutions have been proposed to boost voter turnout. One is to make Election Day a national holiday so that fewer people would have work scheduling conflicts. This could backfire, however, if people used it to extend a weekend holiday.Another suggestion is to enable early voting; in fact 34 states already have some form of early voting. A downside to early voting is that voters might regret their choice if they hear new information about a candidate after they voted but before Election Day.Other suggestions include allowing mail and online voting. Mail-in ballots are already in use in many counties in Washington, California and Oregon. And some states have begun experimenting with online voting. Further simplifying voter registration has been suggested, as has modernizing the ballot. The latter is intended to avoid the problems that surfaced in Florida in 2000 due to a poor ballot design.Finally, stronger political parties could improve voter turnout, but adopting reforms that would enable party strengthening, such as allowing for increases in finances, raise questions about the role of money in elections.
4712.612.6 The most frequently cited reason Americans give for failing to vote is:Distrust in government and voter cynicismOverwhelming number of electionsDifficulty with voter registrationConflicts with work or familyWhy don’t Americans vote? Let’s see what you have learned about the reasons for low voter turnout.
4812.612.6 The most frequently cited reason Americans give for failing to vote is:Distrust in government and voter cynicismOverwhelming number of electionsDifficulty with voter registrationConflicts with work or familyThe number one reason Americans give for failing to vote is that they are too busy with work and family conflicts.
4912Discussion QuestionWhy don’t more Americans vote? What changes to election procedures might increase voter turnout? What factors influence how Americans make their voting choices?