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Voters and Voter Behavior

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1 Voters and Voter Behavior
Chapter 6.4 Voters and Voter Behavior “Your vote is your voice.”

2 Focus Your Thoughts . . . Why do we vote?
Why do you think that only half of American citizens who are of legal voting age choose to exercise this extremely important right? What are some justifiable reasons for a person’s failure to vote.

3 Nonvoters Idiot (Greek) –
Those citizens who do not vote or otherwise take part in public life. “The Thinker” - Auguste Rodin

4 Nearly 95 million people did not vote.
The Size of the Problem In the 2000 election in which George W. Bush narrowly beat Al Gore, only 56.7% of the population voted . . . Nearly 95 million people did not vote. George W. Bush won the electoral votes of the state of Florida, and thereby the Presidency, by a margin of less than 500 votes. Al Gore & George W. Bush

5 Why People Do Not Vote “Cannot-Voters”
10 million are resident aliens, or illegal immigrants, who are banned from the polls 5 to 6 million were so ill or otherwise physically disabled they simply couldn’t participate 2 to 3 million persons were traveling suddenly and unexpectedly and could not vote 500,000 individuals in mental health care facilities or under some other form of legal restraint 2 million adults in jail/prison 100,000 cannot vote because of their religious beliefs They view voting as idolatry

6 Why People Do Not Vote Actual Nonvoters
80 million voters who could have participated did not Many who could go to the polls but do not are convinced that their “one vote” makes little real difference in regards to who wins an election Two Groups Those who generally approve of the way the public’s business is being managed and believe that no matter who wins the election, things will continue to go well for them and the country. Those who feel alienated and deliberately refuse to vote because they don’t trust political institutions/processes; elections are meaningless, choiceless exercises. Political efficacy

7 Other Factors Affecting Turnout
Cumbersome election procedures – inconvenient registration requirements, long ballots, and long lines at polling places discourage voters “Time-zone fallout” – polls in the Eastern and Central time zones close before polls in the Mountain and Pacific time zones; the news media has often already projected a winner based upon exit poll reports from East Coast and Midwestern states and this discourages West Coast voters The chief cause for non-voting is simply a lack of interest. Many individuals do not even know the simplest facts about the candidates and issues involved in an election.

8 Comparing Voters and Non-Voters
Higher levels of income Higher levels of education Higher occupational status Well-integrated in community life Long-time residents Strong sense of party identification Women are more likely to vote than men Younger than 35 Single Unskilled More likely to live in the South and/or in rural areas

9 Studying Voting Behavior
Most of what is known about voter behavior comes from three sources: The results of particular elections The field of survey research Studies of political socialization The process by which individuals gain their political attitudes and opinions

10 Sociological Factors Sociology is the study of groups and how people behave within groups. Voter’s personal characteristics – age, race, income, occupation, education, religion, etc. Voter’s group affiliations – Family, co-workers, friends, etc.

11 Income, Occupation, & Education
Individuals earning $30,000 or less tend to vote Democrat Individuals earning $40 - $50 split down the middle Individuals earning $50,000 + tend to vote Republican Occupation Professionals and business people tend to vote Republican Manual and unskilled laborers tend to vote Democratic Education College graduates tend to vote Republican in higher percentages than high school graduates

12 Gender, Age, Race, & Religion
Women tend to favor Democratic presidential candidates, particularly when it comes to social issues Age Younger voters tend to favor Democratic presidential candidates Race Minorities tend to vote Democratic; whites tend to vote Republican Religion Protestants prefer the GOP; Catholics and Jews are more likely to vote Democratic

13 Geography & Groups Geography Family & Other Groups
Typically, large urban areas vote Democratic while smaller states tend to vote Republican The Midwest tends to vote Republican, while the coasts tend to vote Democratic Family & Other Groups Typically family members vote in very similar ways Nine out of ten married couples share the same party identification Two out of three voters follow the political attachments of their parents Those who work together are highly likely to vote in similar patterns

14 Psychological Factors
Psychology is the study of the mind and of individual behavior, a variety of psychological factors influence voter behavior, namely voter perceptions of politics How the voter sees the parties, the candidates, and the issues

15 Party Identification Party identification – the loyalty of people to a particular political party is the single most significant and lasting predictor of how a person will vote. Straight-ticket voting – the practice of voting for candidates of only one party in an election. Split-ticket voting – the practice of voting for the candidates of more than one party in an election. Independents – this term is used to identify individuals who are independent of both the Republicans and the Democrats and of any minor party. 1/4 to 1/3 of all voters today are registered as ‘independent’ Tend to be young, above average in education, income, and job status.

16 Candidates & Issues The most important short-term factor which can influence elections is the introduction of a new candidate or a new issue. If the impression a particular candidate makes on a voter is significant, this can impact the way in which they vote. In addition, if a candidate brings up a new issue, or takes a definitive stance on a controversial issue, this can also influence a voter.

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