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The New American Voter
Warren E. Miller and J. Merrill Shanks
Harvard University Press, 1996

In this definitive study, Warren E. Miller and J. Merrill Shanks present a comprehensive, authoritative analysis of American voting patterns from 1952 through the early 1990s, with special emphasis on the 1992 election, based on data collected by the National Election Studies. For example, Miller and Shanks reveal that:

The loudly trumpeted "dealignment" of the 1970s and 1980s, along with the decline in voter turnout, was in fact an acute "nonalignment" and noninvolvement of new cohorts entering the electorate.
The social correlates of the Republican/Democratic divisions on party identification among Southern voters have changed dramatically over a forty-year period.
Enduring cultural and ideological predispositions play a major role in shaping voters' reactions to election campaigns and their choice for President.
Personalities of presidential candidates and their positions on campaign issues tend to matter far less than is often claimed.
Perot's appeal in 1992 can be attributed to the same factors that distinguished between supporters of Clinton and Bush.

In an unprecedented analysis of individual elections and long-term trends, and of changes within regions, ethnic groups, and gender and age categories, The New American Voter presents a unique social and economic picture of partisanship and participation in the American electoral process. This work is likely to become an instant classic.


front cover of None of the Above
None of the Above
Protest Voting in Latin American Democracies
Mollie J. Cohen
University of Michigan Press, 2024
Around the world each year, millions of citizens turn out to vote but leave their ballots empty or spoil them. Increasingly, campaigns have emerged that promote “invalid” votes like these. Why do citizens choose to cast blank and spoiled votes? And how do campaigns mobilizing the invalid vote influence this decision? None of the Above answers these questions using evidence from presidential and gubernatorial elections in eighteen Latin American democracies. Author Mollie J. Cohen draws on a broad range of methods and sources, incorporating data from electoral management bodies, nationally representative surveys, survey experiments, focus groups, semi-structured interviews, and news sources. 

Contrary to received wisdom, this book shows that most citizens cast blank or spoiled votes in presidential elections on purpose. By participating in invalid vote campaigns, citizens can voice their concerns about low-quality candidates while also expressing a preference for high-quality democracy. Campaigns promoting blank and spoiled votes come about more often, and succeed at higher rates, when incumbent politicians undermine the quality of elections. Surprisingly, invalid vote campaigns can shore up the quality of democracy in the short term. None of the Above shows that swings in blank and spoiled vote rates can serve as a warning about the trajectory of a country’s democracy. 

front cover of Nothing to Read
Nothing to Read
Newspapers and Elections in a Social Experiment
Jeffery J. Mondak
University of Michigan Press, 1995
How important are local newspapers for disseminating information during election campaigns? A large body of literature theorizes that they should have very little effect on political behavior since the electorate is largely immune to any media influence. To what lengths would the average citizen go to obtain information about candidates should a media source suddenly be suspended during an election? Most of the literature argues that the average citizen would not seek out any additional information to supplement what they passively acquire. A newspaper strike in Pittsburgh during the 1992 elections afforded Jeffery J. Mondak an unparalleled opportunity to test these assumptions--and to prove them both wrong.
Nothing to Read compares the information gathering and voting behavior of residents in Pittsburgh and Cleveland during the 1992 campaign season. Comparable in demographics and political behavior, the only significant difference between the two cities was the availability of local newspapers. Using a research design that combines elements of the opinion survey and the laboratory experiment, the author exploited this situation to produce an unusually sound and thorough examination of media effects on voters.
The results are startling. First and foremost, Nothing to Read reasserts the role of the newspaper in the dissemination of information acquisition. It is the only media source that can rival television in the electoral arena, and it is often more important to voters as a source for local information, including information about U.S. House races. Nothing to Read also shows that voters are more active in seeking out information than typically postulated. Indeed, many voters even differentiate between media sources for information about Senate and House contests and sources for the presidential campaign. Within limits, the electorate is clearly not a passive news audience. Nothing to Read provides a wealth of information on such related topics as the relationship between partisanship and media influence, the interplay between media exposure and interpersonal political conversations and other social interaction, and newspapers' effect on coattail voting. A unique book, Mondak's important study lays a solid foundation for all future work on the relationship between American media and politics.
Jeffery J. Mondak is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Pittsburgh.

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