FAMILY Tremendous influence upon the way one votes. 80% of the populace votes the same way as their parents do.
FRIENDS Highest percentage amongst “self-chosen” friends. Co-workers share some tendencies as well.
AGE Younger people tend to vote Democratic. They tend to be more idealistic--realism hasn’t set in yet. Age 35 or older tend to vote Republican.
SOUTH From Civil War to approximately the Reagan Revolution the “Solid South” tended to vote democratic. Since then, the Republicans have made inroads and now have established control. “New South.”
MIDWEST Tends to vote Republican. Conservative values and slower pace of life. “Bible Belt.”
GREAT LAKES Tends to vote Democratic. Especially in traditional manufacturing centers.
ROCKY MOUNTAINS Generally Republican, but lately the Democrats are coming on in states like Colorado.
WEST COAST Tends to vote Democratic. Though there are specific conservative “pockets”, like San Diego and Orange County.
URBAN Tends to vote Democratic. Traditional labor and minorities tend to live in cities.
SUBURBIA Due to “white flight” from the inner cities, historically suburbs tend to vote Republican. The more diverse the suburb is, then the greater possibility of Democratic inroads.
FARMERS Rural families tied to the land. Conservative usually with possible evangelical connections. Agribusiness-- Combination of farming and large businesses.
LABOR Traditionally considered “blue collar” workers. Tends to vote overwhelming Democratic. Union membership plays a major influence.
PROFESSIONAL Traditionally considered “white collar” workers. Tend to vote Republican due to greater association with business.
MINORITIES Tend to vote Democratic. Immigrant groups historically linked with the Democratic Party. African-Americans overwhelmingly vote Democratic.
WASPS White Anglo-Saxon Protestants tend to vote Republican. Power elite in U.S. historically.
POLITICAL PARTY AFFILIATION Probably the strongest predictor in voting. However, more people today “vote the man, not the party”. Straight ticket voting has declined. Split ticket voting has recently increased. Strong vs. weak party members. Independents and “Leaners”.
CROSS PRESSURES The more factors involved in the same direction, then the more likely to vote that way. Mixture of factors, then vote in question. Some factors can be predominant. (Race)
COATTAIL EFFECT Presence of an especially strong presidential candidate can influence voters.
VOTER TURNOUT Suffrage qualifications eliminated: 1. Religion (state legislatures) 2. Property (state legislatures) 3. Race (15th Amendment) 4. Gender (19th Amendment) 5. Income (24th Amendment-poll tax) 6. Literacy (Voting Rights Act of 1965) 7. Minimum age of 21 (26th Amendment)
CURRENT QUALIFICATIONS Set by states: 1. Citizenship 2. Residency 3. Age 4. Registration (in all states but ND)
VOTER TURNOUT IN U.S. COMPARED U.S. Presidential Election: 2000—54.2%; 2004-- 60.1%; and 2008—61.6%(Highest turnout since 1992--68%) U.S. Midterm Election: 1998--35.3%, 2002—39.5%, 2006—40.4%, and 2010—40.9%. http://elections.gmu.edu/Turnout_2010G.html http://elections.gmu.edu/Turnout_2010G.html Comparable industrialized nations in the West are as high as 90%. This is deceiving because…
The U.S. does not impose penalties for voting like Australia, France, Belgium and others. Other nations have multi- party systems that allow for more choice, and, perhaps, a more meaningful vote. Other nations have automatic/same day registration.
WHY LOW TURNOUT? Registration (Congress’s Motor Voter Act  has helped some, but 2001 study found that motor-voter registrants had a lower turnout rate than other new voters.) Long Ballot Election type (General v. Primary; Presidential v. Midterm; and, National v. State) Absentee ballot difficulties Too many elections Age restrictions Single day elections
There are also political reasons: Dissatisfaction with candidates, parties, and politics in general--voter apathy. Lack of strong 2-party competition. Weakness of parties in mobilizing voters.
SO, WHO VOTES? Those who are registered to vote already (89% in 2004). Those with high levels of educational achievement, regardless of race, gender, or income status are more likely to vote than those with low levels. And, those with higher levels of income are more likely to vote. And, those who are older are likely to vote. And, those who are white are more likely to vote.
WHY CARE? If voters accurately represented a cross-section of the U.S., then low voter turnout would be relatively unimportant. However, the problem is that older whites with higher levels of income and educational achievements are over-represented. This is critical in understanding why it might be easier to elect a Republican rather than a Democrat, as the profile above predicts GOP.