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PARTICIPATION American Government. Nature of Political Participation Participation: a many- splendored thing  Run for office  Civic activism: demonstrations,

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Presentation on theme: "PARTICIPATION American Government. Nature of Political Participation Participation: a many- splendored thing  Run for office  Civic activism: demonstrations,"— Presentation transcript:

1 PARTICIPATION American Government

2 Nature of Political Participation Participation: a many- splendored thing  Run for office  Civic activism: demonstrations, sit-ins, etc  Writing letters, sending s  Bumper sticker politics  Attend rallies, speeches, and meetings  Join a political organization  Inform others about and discuss politics  Give Money  Vote

3 Political Participation Some kinds of participation are more popular than others. Running for Office is the highest cost and most difficult in terms of entry. It is also the rarest kind of participation. Voting is the most popular kind of participation. However, the most common choice is: none of the above.

4 Non-voting political participation comes in a variety of forms. The higher the transaction costs associated with the type of political participation, the lower the percentage of Americans who engage in it. Signing a petition is much easier than making a speech, volunteering, or attending protests.

5 There are generational differences in political participation. As you get older, you are more likely to participate in politics. Older generations participate in politics in much larger numbers than younger generations. However some types of political participation have small to no generational differences.

6 Income & Participation Income also is related to rates of political participation. The wealthy are much more likely to vote and to contribute to campaigns than the less well off in the American electorate. Across the board, the more wealthy citizens participate more in politics than do poor citizens.

7 Turnout: Rural, Suburban, Urban Interestingly, political participation rates aren’t that different between the city and the rural areas. However, urban areas have much higher percentages of younger voters, who tend not to vote as often. Hence urban turnout tends to lag behind suburban and rural turnout.

8 Education & Turnout Education is strongly related to turnout rates. The more educated a person is, the more likely they are to participate in politics. Voting rates are substantially higher among the college educated part of the population vs. the non- college educated.

9 Gender & Turnout Men and women turnout to vote at roughly the same rate. However, there is a growing gap between male and female turnout. Women are turning out at higher rates than men. Given that women and men have different political views on average, this has significant implications for partisan politics.

10 Voter Turnout: Rational Voters? Why all the non-voting? Or, conversely, why all the voting? Rational voters should only vote if the costs of voting are less than the benefits of having your preferred candidate win. (i.e. utility > transaction costs) Problem? Well, that leaves the following equation: Vote decision = U * P – C > 0, vote. Else, no vote.  U = utility from getting preferred candidate  P = probability of casting the decisive vote in the election  C = transaction costs associated with voting

11 The Turnout Paradox The problem is the rational model has a Nash equilibrium where voters choose not to vote. The problems don’t stop there:  Reality v. Theory: But, millions of people vote. So we are still left with the question: why do people vote? And why don’t they? One solution: a sense of duty (civic obligation) induces voters to vote: Vote decision = U * P + D > C (vote)  D = a sense of civic duty, allegiance, etc.

12 What is Civic Duty Riker & Ordeshook defined it thusly: 1. complying with the social obligation to vote; 2. affirming one's allegiance to the political system; 3. affirming a partisan preference (also known as expressive voting, or voting for a candidate to express support, not to achieve any outcome); 4. affirming one's importance to the political system; and, for those who find politics interesting and 5. entertaining, researching and making a decision

13 Why care about Voter Turnout? Why is voter turnout an important issue? Should we care whether people vote or not?  A high turnout is generally seen as evidence of the legitimacy of the current system.legitimacy  Contrary View: On the other hand, if low turnout is a reflection of contentment of voters about likely winners or parties, then low turnout is as legitimate as high turnout, as long as the right to vote exists.  low turnouts can lead to unequal representation among various parts of the population. In developed countries, non- voters tend to be concentrated in particular demographic and socioeconomic groups, especially the young and the poor.youngpoor

14 Voter Turnout: Comparative Perspective Is voting on the decline? Since the 1960’s voting in national elections in the major democracies of the world have been declining. Turnout in the United States has fallen from the mid 60’s to the mid 50’s in presidential elections. However, turnout has been on an upswing in the 2000’s.

15 Voting Turnout: Comparative Perspective The United States is ranks 35 th out of 37 democracies in voter turnout since the 1960’s (lower house elections). Explanations for the low turnout ranking of the United States include:  Negative campaigning  The two-party system  Number of elections  Greater transaction costs (registration) Arkansas was 22 nd in turnout among the states in

16 More on Voter Turnout Other explanations for low voter turnout in the U.S.  Voter ignorance  Lack of competition (especially true at the state level: many candidates run unopposed)  Uninteresting candidates  No personal contact by candidate or parties (especially tough in big states)  Dissatisfaction with the system  The media  Education

17 2000: Bush v. Gore Media Predictions of “winners” Counting Ballots: The “Hanging Chad” phenomon Voting Equipment Controversies  Touch screens  The “butterfly ballot”

18 The Sociological Explanation: Bowling Alone One of the primary scholars who argues that declining participation in America is due to a change in our culture is the political scientist, Robert Putnam. In 2000 he published: Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Putnam surveys the decline of "social capital" in the United States of America since 1950, which he feels undermines the active civil engagement a strong democracy requires from its citizens.

19 Other Explanations The Welfare State Explanation:  Francis Fukuyama has blamed the welfare state, arguing that the decrease in turnout has come shortly after the government became far more involved in people's lives.  He argues in Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity that the social capital essential to high voter turnouts is easily dissipated by government actions. The Media & Campaigns Explanation  Rosenstone and Hansen contend that the decline in turnout is the product of a change in campaigning strategies as a result of the so-called new media.  Before the introduction of television, almost all of a party's resources would be directed towards intensive local campaigning and get out the vote initiatives.get out the vote  In the modern era, these resources have been redirected to expensive media campaigns in which the potential voter is a passive participant.

20 Turnout: What Decline? Is the “Disappearing American Voter” a myth? The most typical way to calculate the turnout rate is to divide the number of votes by what is called the "voting-age population" which consists of everyone age 18 and older residing in the United States. This includes persons ineligible to vote, mainly non-citizens and ineligible felons, and excludes overseas eligible voters. When turnout rates are calculated for those eligible to vote, a new picture of turnout emerges, which exhibits no decline since By 2004, ineligible voters constituted nearly 10%. Ineligible voters are not evenly distributed across the country - 20% of California's voting-age population is ineligible to vote - which confounds comparisons of states.

21 Turnout: United States (VAP & EP)

22 Voter Turnout Demographics In each nation, some parts of society are more likely to vote than others. In high-turnout nations, these differences tend to be limited: as turnout approaches 90% it becomes difficult to find differences of much significance between voters and nonvoters, but in low turnout nations the differences between voters and non- voters can be quite marked. These differences appear to persist over time—the best predictor of individual turnout is whether or not a person voted in the previous election.[15] As a result, many scholars think of turnout as habitual behavior that can be learned or unlearned, especially among young adults.[16]

23 Voting Demographics: Education, Income, Age The most important socioeconomic factor in voter turnout is education. The more educated a person is, the more likely he or she is to vote, even when controlled for other factors such as income and class that are closely associated with education level. Income has some effect independently: wealthier people are more likely to vote, regardless of their educational background. Young people are far less likely to vote than the elderly; and single people are less likely to vote than those who are married. Occupation has little effect on turnout, with the notable exception of higher voting rates among government employees in many countries.

24 Rock the Vote The decline in voter turnout is almost wholly concentrated among young people. Those who began voting prior to 1960 maintain the same high turnout rates of that era. For each subsequent generation, starting with the one that came of age in the 1960s, turnout has steadily declined. Recent programs to increase the rates of voting among young people—such as MTV's "Rock the Vote" and the "Vote or Die" initiatives in the United States— may have marginally increased turnouts of those between the ages of 18 and 25 to vote

25 Voting Demographics: Gender Traditionally, women have not participated in politics as much as men have. Women are underrepresented among our elected officials. However, participation by women has been on the rise in the 20 th and 21 st century. Women have seen substantial gains in terms of serving in elected office:  23% of today’s state legislators are women  27 women have served as their state’s governor (1970’s saw the first non-husband succession) President?

26 The Gender Gap There is a substantial difference between men and women in their political views, party affiliation and voting choices. Women are more likely to identify with the Democratic party than men, who tend to identify with the Republican party. Women give Democratic gubernatorial candidates 5 – 10% more support than men do.

27 Voting & Ethnicity Research/NewVoters/Ethnicity_tbls.html#table1 Research/NewVoters/Ethnicity_tbls.html#table1 Black turnout lagged behind that of Whites substantially in the early decades of the 20 th century. However, that gap has closed in the second half as reforms and anti-discrimination initiatives have opened up the process for blacks and other minorities. However, minority participation is still fairly low.


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