Although the rational choice approach toward political behavior has been severely criticized, its adherents claim that competing models have failed to offer a more scientific model of political decisionmaking. This measured but provocative book offers precisely that: an alternative way of understanding political behavior based on cognitive research.
The authors draw on research in neuroscience, physiology, and experimental psychology to conceptualize habit and reason as two mental states that interact in a delicate, highly functional balance controlled by emotion. Applying this approach to more than fifteen years of election results, they shed light on a wide range of political behavior, including party identification, symbolic politics, and negative campaigning.
Remarkably accessible, Affective Intelligence and Political Judgment urges social scientists to move beyond the idealistic notion of the purely rational citizen to form a more complete, realistic model that includes the emotional side of human judgment.
The American Voter Revisited
Michael S. Lewis-Beck, William G. Jacoby, Helmut Norpoth, and Herbert F. Weisberg University of Michigan Press, 2008 Library of Congress JK1967.A834 2008 | Dewey Decimal 324.60973
Today we are politically polarized as never before. The presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 will be remembered as two of the most contentious political events in American history. Yet despite the recent election upheaval, The American Voter Revisited discovers that voter behavior has been remarkably consistent over the last half century. And if the authors are correct in their predictions, 2008 will show just how reliably the American voter weighs in, election after election.
The American Voter Revisited re-creates the outstanding 1960 classic The American Voter---which was based on the presidential elections of 1952 and 1956---following the same format, theory, and mode of analysis as the original. In this new volume, the authors test the ideas and methods of the original against presidential election surveys from 2000 and 2004. Surprisingly, the contemporary American voter is found to behave politically much like voters of the 1950s.
"Simply essential. For generations, serious students of American politics have kept The American Voter right on their desk. Now, everyone will keep The American Voter Revisited right next to it."
---Larry J. Sabato, Director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics and author of A More Perfect Constitution
"The American Voter Revisited is destined to be the definitive volume on American electoral behavior for decades. It is a timely book for 2008, with in-depth analyses of the 2000 and 2004 elections updating and extending the findings of the original The American Voter. It is also quite accessible, making it ideal for graduate students as well as advanced undergrads."
---Andrew E. Smith, Director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center
"A theoretically faithful, empirically innovative, comprehensive update of the original classic."
---Sam Popkin, Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego
Michael S. Lewis-Beck is F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa. William G. Jacoby is Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University. Helmut Norpoth is Professor of Political Science at Stony Brook University. Herbert F. Weisberg is Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University.
"Jones and McDermott restore meaning to democratic responsibility by finding that public evaluations affect Congress. In contrast to the popular depiction of the representatives controlling the represented
rampant in the political science literature, Jones and McDermott show that the people are in control, determining not only the direction of policy in Congress, but also who stays, who retires, and who faces difficult reelection efforts. This book makes an important correction to our understanding of how Congress operates."
---Sean M. Theriault, University of Texas at Austin
Voters may not know the details of specific policies, but they have a general sense of how well Congress serves their own interests; and astute politicians pay attention to public approval ratings. When the majority party is unpopular, as during the 2008 election, both voters and politicians take a hand in reconfiguring the House and the Senate. Voters throw hard-line party members out of office while candidates who continue to run under the party banner distance themselves from party ideology. In this way, public approval directly affects policy shifts as well as turnovers at election time. Contrary to the common view of Congress as an insulated institution, Jones and McDermott argue that Congress is indeed responsive to the people of the United States.
David R. Jones is Professor of Political Science at Baruch College, City University of New York.
Monika L. McDermott is Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University.
Since 1896, Ohio voters have failed to favor the next president only twice (in 1944 and 1960). Time after time, Ohio has found itself in the thick of the presidential race, and 2016 is shaping up to be no different. What about the Buckeye State makes it so special? In The Bellwether, Kyle Kondik, managing editor for the nonpartisan political forecasting newsletter Sabato’s Crystal Ball, blends data-driven research and historical documentation to explain Ohio’s remarkable record as a predictor of presidential results and why the state is essential to the 2016 election and beyond.
Part history, part journalism, this entertaining and astute guide proposes that Ohio has been the key state in the Electoral College for more than a century and examines what the idea of the swing state has come to mean. In discussing the evidence, Kondik uses the state’s oft-mentioned status as a microcosm of the nation as a case study to trace the evolution of the American electorate, and identifies which places in Ohio have the most influence on the statewide result. Finally, he delves into the answer to the question voting Ohioans consider every four years: Will their state remain a bellwether, or is their ability to pick the president on its way out?
Berlusconi's Italy provides a fresh, thoroughly-informed account of how Italy's richest man came to be its political leader. Without dismissing the importance of personalities and political parties, it emphasizes the significance of changes in voting behaviors that led to the rise-and eventual fall-of Silvio Berlusconi, the millionaire media baron who became Prime Minister. Armed with new data and new analytic tools, Michael Shin and John Agnew use recently developed methods of spatial analysis, to offer a compelling new argument about contextual re-creation and mutation. They reveal that regional politics and shifting geographical voting patterns were far more important to Berlusconi's successes than the widely-credited role of the mass media, and conclude that Berlusconi's success (and later defeat) can be best understood in geographic terms.
The dramatic transition from military to civilian rule in Brazil between 1974 and 1985 raises critical questions about voters, competitive party politics, and democracy at the end of the twentieth century.
This book argues that whereas military government stifled democratic activity, public opinion quickly revived when the military liberalized electoral politics in 1974. Voters rapidly aligned themselves with parties for and against military government, acquired new views on major issues, judged leaders by their performance and policies, and grounded their beliefs in concepts of social justice. Kurt von Mettenheim examines how Brazilian voters make choices and cast their ballots runs counter to long-held liberal theories about how democracy works.
For many of us, the presidential election of 2000 was a wake-up call. The controversy following the vote count led to demands for election reform. But the new voting systems that were subsequently introduced to the market have serious security flaws, and many are confusing and difficult to use. Moreover, legislation has not kept up with the constantly evolving voting technology, leaving little to no legal recourse when votes are improperly counted. How did we come to acquire the complex technology we now depend on to count votes? Douglas Jones and Barbara Simons probe this question, along with public policy and regulatory issues raised by our voting technologies. Broken Ballots is a thorough and incisive analysis of the current voting climate that approaches American elections from technological, legal, and historical perspectives. The authors examine the ways in which Americans vote today, gauging how inaccurate, unreliable, and insecure our voting systems are. An important book for election administrators, political scientists, and students of government and technology policy, Broken Ballots is also a vital tool for any voting American.
Capturing Campaign Effects
Henry E. Brady and Richard Johnston, eds. University of Michigan Press, 2006 Library of Congress JK2281.C385 2006 | Dewey Decimal 324.70973
Capturing Campaign Effects is the definitive study to date of the influence of campaigns on political culture. Comprising a broad exploration of campaign factors (debates, news coverage, advertising, and polls) and their effects (priming, learning, and persuasion), as well as an impressive survey of techniques for the collection and analysis of campaign data, Capturing Campaign Effects examines different kinds of campaigns in the U.S. and abroad and presents strong evidence for significant campaign effects.
"Capturing Campaign Effects is an accessible and penetrating account of modern scholarship on electoral politics. It draws critical insights from a range of innovative analyses."
--Arthur Lupia, University of Michigan
"What a wonderful way to usher in the new era of election studies! This book spotlights fascinating paradoxes in the literature of voting behavior, highlights many promising approaches to resolving those paradoxes, and shows how these strategies can yield important findings with terrific payoffs for our understanding of contemporary democracy. Fasten your seatbelts, folks: scholarship on elections is about to speed up thanks to this collection of great essays."
--Jon Krosnick, Stanford University
"The past decade has seen a renewed interest in understanding campaign effects. How and when do voters learn? Does the election campaign even matter at all? Capturing Campaign Effects draws on leading political scientists to address these matters. The result is a collection that will become the major reference for the study of campaigns. The lesson that emerges is that campaigns do affect voter decision making, usually for the better."
--Robert S. Erikson, Columbia University
Henry E. Brady is Class of 1941 Monroe Deutsch Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, and Director of the Survey Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.
Richard Johnston is Professor and Head of Political Science and Distinguished University Scholar at the University of British Columbia.
Once a keystone of the Democratic Party, American Catholics are today helping to put Republicans in office. This book traces changes in party allegiance and voting behavior of Catholics in national elections over the course of 150 years and explains why much of the voting bloc that supported John F. Kennedy has deserted the Democratic coalition.
William B. Prendergast analyzes the relationship between Catholics and the GOP from the 1840s to 1990s. He documents a developing attachment of Catholics to Republican candidates beginning early in this century and shows that, before Kennedy, Catholics helped elect Eisenhower, returned to the polls in support of Nixon and Reagan, and voted for a Republican Congress in 1994.
To account for this shifting allegiance, Prendergast analyzes transformations in the Catholic population, the parties, and the political environment. He attributes these changes to the Americanization of immigrants, the socioeconomic and educational advancement of Catholics, and the emergence of new issues. He also cites the growth of ecumenicism, the influence of Vatican II, the abatement of Catholic-Protestant hostility, and the decline of anti-Catholicism in the Republican party.
Clearly demonstrating a Catholic move toward political independence, Prendergast's work reveals both the realignment of voters and the influence of religious beliefs in the political arena. Provocative and informative, it confirms the opinion of pollsters that no candidate can take the vote of the largest and most diverse religious group in the nation for granted.
The central domestic issue in the United States over the long history of this nation has been the place of the people of color in American society. One aspect of this debate is how African-Americans are represented in Congress. Kenny J. Whitby examines congressional responsiveness to black interests by focusing on the representational link between African-American constituents and the policymaking behavior of members of the United States House of Representatives. The book uses the topics of voting rights, civil rights, and race- based redistricting to examine how members of Congress respond to the interests of black voters. Whitby's analysis weighs the relative effect of district characteristics such as partisanship, regional location, degree of urbanization and the size of the black constituency on the voting behavior of House members over time. Whitby explores how black interests are represented in formal, descriptive, symbolic, and substantive terms. He shows the political tradeoffs involved in redistricting to increase the number of African-Americans in Congress.
The book is the most comprehensive analysis of black politics in the congressional context ever published. It will appeal to political scientists, sociologists, historians, and psychologists concerned with minority politics, legislative politics, and the psychological, political, and sociological effects of increasing minority membership in Congress on the perception of government held by African Americans.
Kenny J. Whitby is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of South Carolina.
Economic policymaking has perpetually been one of the central dilemmas facing Congress, leading to huge budget deficits and disagreements among legislators about spending priorities and tax policies.
This book examines congressional decision making on economic policy during the Reagan administration. It looks at legislative actions on Reaganomics, tax reform, and the politics of deficit reduction, and shows the importance of looking not just at the consequences of these decisions but also at the legislative processes that led to them.
Using an “activist-based” approach and previously unexamined data, Darrell West shows that district activists, often more conservative than the public at large, exerted a disproportionate and misleading effect on congressional voting. When this support eventually proved unstable, a more skeptical Congress began to eventually back away from the president's policies. This move had serious consequences for deficit reduction and policy initiation, and also influenced the final shape of the tax reform package adopted in 1986.
This classic study of voting decisions in the U.S. House of Representatives, based on extensive interviewing and observation, combines theory and substance, generalization and detailed description. With a new introduction, this influential and innovative book remains the best statement of the ways in which legislators reach decisions. The work contributes in critical ways to scholars’ and students’ understanding of such larger features of legislative process as representation of constituencies, the place of specialization in the making of public policy, the extent and types of legislative rationality, the importance of principles in decisions, and the place of legislatures in larger political systems.
The most comprehensive portrait of a presidential campaign in more than a decade, Crosstalk focuses on the 1992 U.S. presidential race and looks at how citizens use information in the media to make their voting decisions and how politicians and the media interact to shape that information.
Examining political advertisements, news coverage, ad watches, and talk shows in Los Angeles, Boston, Winston-Salem, and Fargo/Moorhead, the authors chart the impact of different information environments on citizens and show how people developed images of candidates over the course of the campaign. Crosstalk presents persuasive evidence that campaigns do matter, that citizens are active participants in the campaign process, and their perceptions of a candidate's character is the central factor in the voting process.
This innovative study contributes significantly to our understanding of the 1992 presidential campaign and of campaigns in general, and shows how election campaigns can play an important role in the long-term vitality of democracy.
Referenda on important public policy questions have come to play a central role in policy making in many states. Referenda, or ballot propositions, have resulted in limits on taxation and limits on the number of terms of elected officials, and have dealt with bilingual education, campaign finances, and affirmative action, in states all over the country.
Shaun Bowler and Todd Donovan present a searching and original examination of how voters make decisions in direct referenda. The authors ask if voters have some information about the issue easily at their disposal and if they make choices that seem sensible given their interests and the information they have. Looking at the way voters respond to different kinds of questions, the authors suggest that while direct democracy has its failings, the flaws do not necessarily lie with citizens being "duped," nor with voters approving propositions they do not want or do not understand at some basic level.
As cynicism about government has increased many have sought to take policy questions out of the hands of elected officials and put the questions directly before the voters for decision. And yet many are skeptical about the ability of voters to make intelligent decisions about complex policy issues. This important book demonstrates that voters are capable of responding thoughtfully to referenda questions.
This book will appeal to students of contemporary American politics and electoral politics.
Shaun Bowler is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California at Irvine. Todd Donovan is Associate Professor of Political Science, Western Washington University.
How do threats of terrorism affect the opinions of citizens? Speculation abounds, but until now no one had marshaled hard evidence to explain the complexities of this relationship. Drawing on data from surveys and original experiments they conducted in the United States and Mexico, Jennifer Merolla and Elizabeth Zechmeister demonstrate how our strategies for coping with terrorist threats significantly influence our attitudes toward fellow citizens, political leaders, and foreign nations.
The authors reveal, for example, that some people try to restore a sense of order and control through increased wariness of others—especially of those who exist outside the societal mainstream. Additionally, voters under threat tend to prize “strong leadership” more highly than partisan affiliation, making some politicians seem more charismatic than they otherwise would. The authors show that a wary public will sometimes continue to empower such leaders after they have been elected, giving them greater authority even at the expense of institutional checks and balances. Having demonstrated that a climate of terrorist threat also increases support for restrictive laws at home and engagement against terrorists abroad, Merolla and Zechmeister conclude that our responses to such threats can put democracy at risk.
In November 2000, when the now-infamous "butterfly ballot" confused crucial Florida voters during a hotly contested presidential race, the importance of well-designed ballots to a functioning democracy caught the nation's attention. Recognizing that our entire voting process—from registering to vote to following instructions at the polling place—can be almost as confusing as the Florida ballot, Design for Democracy builds on the lessons of 2000 by presenting innovative steps for redesigning elections in the service of citizens.
Handsomely designed itself, this volume showcases adaptable design models that can improve almost every part of the election process by maximizing the clarity and usability of ballots, registration forms, posters and signs, informational brochures and guides, and even administrative materials for poll workers. Design for Democracy also lays out specific guidelines—covering issues of color palette, typography, and image use—that anchor the comprehensive election design system devised by the group of design specialists from whose name the book takes its title. Part of a major AIGA strategic program, this group's prototypes and recommendations have already been used successfully in major Illinois and Oregon elections and, collected here, are likely to spread across the country as more people become aware of the myriad benefits and broad applicability of improved election design.
An essential tool for designers and election officials, lawmakers and citizens, Design for Democracy harnesses the power of design to increase voter confidence, promote government transparency, and, perhaps most important, create an informed electorate.
What if there were more women in Congress? Providing the first comprehensive study of the policy activity of male and female legislators at the federal level, Michele L. Swers persuasively demonstrates that, even though representatives often vote a party line, their gender is politically significant and does indeed influence policy making.
Swers combines quantitative analyses of bills with interviews with legislators and their staff to compare legislative activity on women's issues by male and female members of the House of Representatives during the 103rd (1993-94) and 104th (1995-96) Congresses. Tracking representatives' commitment to women's issues throughout the legislative process, from the introduction of bills through committee consideration to final floor votes, Swers examines how the prevailing political context and members' positions within Congress affect whether and how aggressively they pursue women's issues.
Anyone studying congressional behavior, the role of women, or the representation of social identities in Congress will benefit from Swers's balanced and nuanced analysis.
Does a government’s fate at the ballot box hinge on the state of the economy? Is it inflation, unemployment, or income that makes the difference? What triggers economic voting for or against the incumbent – do voters look at their pocketbooks, or at the national accounts? Do economic voters “punish” rulers for bad times, but fail to “reward” them for the good times? Are voter’s judgments based on past economic performance or future policy promises? These are some of the questions considered by Michael Lewis-Beck in this major cross-national study of the effect of economic conditions on voting behavior in the Western European democracies and the United States.
Michael B. MacKuen and George Rabinowitz, Editors University of Michigan Press, 2003 Library of Congress JK1976.E386 2003 | Dewey Decimal 324.973
Electoral Democracy pushes the boundaries of our current understanding of democratic politics and government. Some of the most distinguished scholars in the discipline were asked to write about a topic of continuing interest to their ongoing research programs. The fruit of their efforts incorporates the best of contemporary work on public opinion and democracy. Taking different perspectives, the authors assess the nature of citizens' political beliefs and values and then consider the ways that those views connect with elite policy-making. The combined set of essays provides the reader a good view of current research, suggests novel theoretical advances, and in the end invites a renewed interest in the quality and durability of electoral democracy.
Michael B. MacKuen is Burton Craige Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina. George Rabinowitz is Burton Craige Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina.
Questions of minority representation have long plagued the U.S. voting systems. The standard election often leaves political, racial, or ethnic minorities with little chance of being represented. Race-conscious districting remains the primary policy tool used for providing representation of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States—and it continues to generate tremendous conflict. Can alternatives to race-conscious, single-member districts offer benefits that extend beyond simply providing descriptive representations of minorities?
This study examines one such “semi-proportional” representation election system: Cumulative Voting (CV). For over a decade, scores of local U.S. governments have been elected by Cumulative Voting. This provides us with the ability to examine the effects of CV elections over time. Moreover, the use of CV in the United States allows us to compare politics in places that adopted CV to highly similar places that did not. Electoral Reform and Minority Representation shares evidence that CV elections can produce minority representation that matches levels generated with the drawing of race-conscious “majority-minority” districting. It also offers evidence that the quality of democratic processes in CV communities is in several ways higher that those under districts.
Given America’s growing racial and ethnic diversity, and given successful legal challenges that limit the use of race-conscious districting Electoral Reform and Minority Representation suggests that Cumulative Voting may be a better way to achieve minority representation in U.S. politics.
In a democracy, we generally assume that voters know the policies they prefer and elect like-minded officials who are responsible for carrying them out. We also assume that voters consider candidates' competence, honesty, and other performance-related traits. But does this actually happen? Do voters consider candidates’ policy positions when deciding for whom to vote? And how do politicians’ performances in office factor into the voting decision?
In Follow the Leader?, Gabriel S. Lenz sheds light on these central questions of democratic thought. Lenz looks at citizens’ views of candidates both before and after periods of political upheaval, including campaigns, wars, natural disasters, and episodes of economic boom and bust. Noting important shifts in voters’ knowledge and preferences as a result of these events, he finds that, while citizens do assess politicians based on their performance, their policy positions actually matter much less. Even when a policy issue becomes highly prominent, voters rarely shift their votes to the politician whose position best agrees with their own. In fact, Lenz shows, the reverse often takes place: citizens first pick a politician and then adopt that politician’s policy views. In other words, they follow the leader.
Based on data drawn from multiple countries, Follow the Leader? is the most definitive treatment to date of when and why policy and performance matter at the voting booth, and it will break new ground in the debates about democracy.
Horses In Midstream
Andrew E Busch University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999 Library of Congress JK1976.B85 1999 | Dewey Decimal 324.973092
Horses in Midstream breaks the mold of midterm election literature by focusing on the consequences of midterm elections rather than on the causes of the anti-administration pattern of those elections. The book concludes that the midterm pattern has two primary consequences: it stymies the President and provides an opportunity for the revitalization of the opposition party—and that numerical losses by the President's party is really only a small part of the equation. Consequently, midterm elections can be considered an additional check in the U.S. political system, acting as a mechanism that helps to assure rough two party balance.
In examining the historical results from midterm elections dating back to 1894 and extending to the surprising result of 1994 and 1998, Busch has uncovered seven consistent ways in which the president and his party are harmed by midterm elections. These elections unfavorably alter the composition of congress, both between the parties and within the President's own party; they deprive the President of the plebiscitary power derived from his original electoral mandate; they give an intangible sense of momentum to the opposition party, leading to renewed opportunities for the opposition to put forward new leaders and to develop winning issues; they exacerbate splits within the President's own party; and they provide the opposition party with expanded party-building opportunities at the state level. Busch also places the midterm elections into four categories: "preparatory" midterms, which contribute to a subsequent change in party control of the Presidency; "calibrating" midterms in which voters slow but do not reverse extraordinary periods of Presidentially-driven change; "normal" midterms when midterm elections stymie the President without contributing to a White House takeover; and the rare "creative exceptions" when an administration escapes the midterm curse at the polls and find themselves invigorated rather than weakened. Busch's new approach to midterm elections, his well supported conclusions, and his clear, consistent style will certainly be of interest to political scientists and will translate well to the classroom.
There is no unified theory that can explain both voter choice and where choices come from. Hinich and Munger fill that gap with their model of political communication based on ideology.
Rather than beginning with voters and diffuse, atomistic preferences, Hinich and Munger explore why large groups of voters share preference profiles, why they consider themselves "liberals" or "conservatives." The reasons, they argue, lie in the twin problems of communication and commitment that politicians face. Voters, overloaded with information, ignore specific platform positions. Parties and candidates therefore communicate through simple statements of goals, analogies, and by invoking political symbols. But politicians must also commit to pursuing the actions implied by these analogies and symbols. Commitment requires that ideologies be used consistently, particularly when it is not in the party's short-run interest.
The model Hinich and Munger develop accounts for the choices of voters, the goals of politicians, and the interests of contributors. It is an important addition to political science and essential reading for all in that discipline.
"Hinich and Munger's study of ideology and the theory of political choice is a pioneering effort to integrate ideology into formal political theory. It is a major step in directing attention toward the way in which ideology influences the nature of political choices." --Douglass C. North
". . . represents a significant contribution to the literature on elections, voting behavior, and social choice." --Policy Currents
Melvin Hinich is Professor of Government, University of Texas. Michael C. Munger is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of North Carolina.
Information and Elections
R. Michael Alvarez University of Michigan Press, 1998 Library of Congress JK528.A64 1998 | Dewey Decimal 324.973092
R. Michael Alvarez examines how voters make their decisions in presidential elections. He begins with the assumption that voters have neither the incentive nor the inclination to be well-informed about politics and presidential candidates. Candidates themselves have incentives to provide ambiguous information about themselves, their records and their issue positions. Yet the author shows that a tremendous amount of information is made available about presidential candidates. And he uncovers clear and striking evidence that people are not likely to vote for candidates about whom they know very little. Alvarez explores how voters learn about candidates through the course of a campaign. He provides a detailed analysis of the media coverage of presidential campaigns and shows that there is a tremendous amount of media coverage of these campaigns, that much of this coverage is about issues and is informative, and that voters learn from this coverage.
The paperback edition of this work has been updated to include information on the 1996 Presidential election.
Information and Elections is a book that will be read by all who are interested in campaigns and electoral behavior in presidential and other elections.
"Thoughtfully conceptualized, painstakingly analyzed, with empirically significant conclusions on presidential election voting behavior, this book is recommended for both upper-division undergraduate and graduate collections." --Choice
R. Michael Alvarez is Associate Professor of Political Science, California Institute of Technology.
Anthony Downs's An Economic Theory of Democracy is one of the handful of books that reshaped political science in the post-World War II period. Information, Participation, and Choice traces the influence of Downs's ideas on subsequent research on voters, candidates, and parties in the United States and elsewhere.
Since their publication in 1957, Downs's seminal ideas -- tweedledum and tweedledee politics and the "rationality" of political ignorance and nonparticipation on the part of voters--have shaped an ongoing debate about how politics actually work. The debate pits a public-choice model inspired by microeconomic precepts against a traditional textbook model that presumes a responsible, informed, and civic-minded citizenry and a set of elected officials motivated by concern for the public interest and policy convictions.
The essays comprising Information, Participation, and Choice, by leading political scientists and economists, provide both a summary of Downs's key theoretical insights and an empirical examination of how well models inspired by Downs accurately describe U.S. political competition for Congress and the presidency.
Bernard Grofman is Professor of Political Science and Social Psychology, University of California, Irvine.
Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party in May 2001 and became an independent. Because he agreed to vote with the Democrats on organizational votes, this gave that party a 51–49 majority in the Senate.
Using the “Jeffords switch,” Chris Den Hartog and Nathan W. Monroe examine how power is shared and transferred in the Senate, as well as whether Democratic bills became more successful after the switch. They also use the data after the switch, when the Republican Party still held a majority on many Democratic Party-led committees, to examine the power of the committee chairs to influence decisions. While the authors find that the majority party does influence Senate decisions, Den Hartog and Monroe are more interested in exploring the method and limits of the majority party to achieve its goals.
Latin American Elections: Choice and Change
Richard Nadeau, Éric Bélanger, Michael S. Lewis-Beck, Mathieu Turgeon, and François Gélineau University of Michigan Press, 2017 Library of Congress JL968.N34 2017 | Dewey Decimal 324.98
The Michigan model, named after the institution where it was first articulated, has been used to explain voting behavior in North American and Western European democracies. In Latin American Elections, experts on Latin America join with experts on electoral studies to evaluate the model’s applicability in this region. Analyzing data from the AmericasBarometer, a scientific public opinion survey carried out in 18 Latin American nations from 2008 to 2012, the authors find that, like democratic voters elsewhere, Latin Americans respond to long-term forces, such as social class, political party ties, and political ideology while also paying attention to short-term issues, such as the economy, crime, corruption. Of course, Latin Americans differ from other Americans, and among themselves. Voters who have experienced left-wing populism may favor government curbs on freedom of expression, for example, while voters enduring high levels of economic deprivation or instability tend to vote against the party in power.
The authors thus conclude that, to a surprising extent, the Michigan model offers a powerful explanatory model for voting behavior in Latin America.
In this volume, experts on Latin American public opinion and political behavior employ region-wide public opinion studies, elite surveys, experiments, and advanced statistical methods to reach several key conclusions about voting behavior in the region’s emerging democracies. In Latin America, to varying degrees the average voter grounds his or her decision in factors identified in classic models of voter choice. Individuals are motivated to go to the polls and select elected officials on the basis of class, religion, gender, ethnicity and other demographic factors; substantive political connections including partisanship, left-right stances, and policy preferences; and politician performance in areas like the economy, corruption, and crime.
Yet evidence from Latin America shows that the determinants of voter choice cannot be properly understood without reference to context—the substance (specific cleavages, campaigns, performance) and the structure (fragmentation and polarization) that characterize the political environment. Voting behavior reflects the relative youth and fluidity of the region’s party systems, as parties emerge and splinter to a far greater degree than in long-standing party systems. Consequently, explanations of voter choice centered around country differences stand on equal footing to explanations focused on individual-level factors.
The presidential primary season used to be a long sequence of elections. In recent years many states have moved their presidential primaries earlier in the year in the belief that this increases their influence over the choice of presidential nominees. Similarly, in the past most voters have gone to a polling place and voted on election day. Now an increasing number of voters are not voting on election day but are using mail-in or absentee ballots to vote, often weeks before other voters.
Does the movement to a large number of early presidential primaries reduce the ability of voters to learn about the candidates? Do voters who vote early miss important information by not following the entire campaign, or are they, as some argue, more partisan? In a unique study Rebecca B. Morton and Kenneth C. Williams investigate the impact these changes have on the choices voters make. The authors combine a formal, theoretical model to derive hypotheses with experiments, elections conducted in labs, to test the hypotheses.
Their analysis finds that sequence in voting does matter. In simultaneous voting elections well-known candidates are more likely to win, even if that candidate is the first preference of only a minority of the voters and would be defeated by another candidate, if that candidate were better known. These results support the concerns of policy makers that front-loaded primaries prevent voters from learning during the primary process. The authors also find evidence that in sequential elections those who vote on election day have the benefit of information received throughout the whole course of the campaign, thus supporting concerns with mail-in ballots and other early balloting procedures.
This book will interest scholars interested in elections, the design of electoral systems, and voting behavior as well as the use of formal modeling and experiments in the study of politics. It is written in a manner that can be easily read by those in the public concerned with presidential elections and voting.
Rebecca B. Morton is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Iowa. Kenneth C. Williams is Associate Professor of Political Science, Michigan State University.
"Why is The Making of New Deal Democrats so significant? One of the major controversies in the study of American elections has to do with the nature of electoral realignments. One school argues that a realignment involves a major shift of voters from one party to another, while another school argues that the process consists largely of mobilization of previously inactive voters. The debate is crucial for understanding the nature of the New Deal realignment.
Almost all previous work on the subject has dealt with large-scale national patterns which make it difficult to pin down the precise processes by which the alignment took place. Gamm's work is most remarkable in that it is a close analysis of shifting voter alignments on the precinct and block level in the city of Boston. His extremely detailed and painstaking work of isolating homogeneous ethnic units over a twenty-year period allows one to trace the voting behavior of the particular ethnic groups that ultimately formed the core of the New Deal realignment."—Sidney Verba, Harvard University
Most research on two-party elections has considered the outcome as a single, dichotomous event: either one or the other party wins. In this groundbreaking book, James Fowler and Oleg Smirnov investigate not just who wins, but by how much, and they marshal compelling evidence that mandates-in the form of margin of victory-matter. Using theoretical models, computer simulation, carefully designed experiments, and empirical data, the authors show that after an election the policy positions of both parties move in the direction preferred by the winning party-and they move even more if the victory is large. In addition, Fowler and Smirnov not only show that the divergence between the policy positions of the parties is greatest when the previous election was close, but also that policy positions are further influenced by electoral volatility and ideological polarization.
This pioneering book will be of particular interest to political scientists, game theoreticians, and other scholars who study voting behavior and its short-term and long-range effects on public policy.
Voters do not always choose their preferred candidate on election day. Often they cast their ballots to prevent a particular outcome, as when their own preferred candidate has no hope of winning and they want to prevent another, undesirable candidate’s victory; or, they vote to promote a single-party majority in parliamentary systems, when their own candidate is from a party that has no hope of winning. In their thought-provoking book The Many Faces of Strategic Voting, Laura B. Stephenson, John H. Aldrich, and André Blais first provide a conceptual framework for understanding why people vote strategically, and what the differences are between sincere and strategic voting behaviors. Expert contributors then explore the many facets of strategic voting through case studies in Great Britain, Spain, Canada, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and the European Union.
Erik J. Engstrom offers a historical perspective on the effects of gerrymandering on elections and party control of the U.S. national legislature. Aside from the requirements that districts be continuous and, after 1842, that each select only one representative, there were few restrictions on congressional districting. Unrestrained, state legislators drew and redrew districts to suit their own partisan agendas. With the rise of the “one-person, one-vote” doctrine and the implementation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, however, redistricting became subject to court oversight.
Engstrom evaluates the abundant cross-sectional and temporal variation in redistricting plans and their electoral results from all the states, from 1789 through the 1960s, to identify the causes and consequences of partisan redistricting. His analysis reveals that districting practices across states and over time systematically affected the competitiveness of congressional elections, shaped the partisan composition of congressional delegations, and, on occasion, determined party control of the House of Representatives.
The unprecedented geographic and socioeconomic mobility of twentieth-century America was accompanied by a major reshuffling of political support in many parts of the country. Yet at the dawn of the new century these local and regional movements are still poorly understood. How can we account for persistent political regionalism and the sectional changes that have radically altered the nation's political landscape, from the Sun Belt to the Rust Belt? Patchwork Nation retrieves this lost knowledge, restoring geography to its central role in our nation's political behavior.
"A primer on the importance of regional identity in the electoral system. ... [A]nyone interested in learning more about how America's diversity drives its political systems would do well to take a spin through Patchwork Nation."
---Meg Kinnard, NationalJournal.com
"Location, location, location. What matters in politics is not just who the voters are, but where they are. Just ask Al Gore. Or read this book, a compelling demonstration that geography is often destiny."
---Bill Schneider, Senior Political Analyst, CNN
"This accessible and well-written book challenges us to reflect on the role that political context plays in shaping the vote. By tracing how regional politics evolves over time within and across states, Gimpel and Schuknecht have revived the important but often neglected field of political geography."
---Donald Green, Yale University
"In the spirit of V. O. Key, Gimpel and Schuknecht make a fundamental contribution. They demonstrate that states and regions are not simply important as units of aggregation, but rather as complex political arenas with profound consequences for processes of democratic politics both within and beyond their boundaries."
---Robert Huckfeldt, University of California, Davis
“ A major piece of work . . . a classic. There is no
other book like it.”
— Norman Schofield, Washington University
“ The authors succeed brilliantly in tackling a large
number of important questions concerning the
interaction among voters and elected representatives
in the political arena, using a common, rigorous
— Antonio Merlo, University of Pennsylvania
Positive Political Theory II: Strategy and Structure
is the second volume in Jeffrey Banks and David
Austen-Smith’ s monumental study of the links
between individual preferences and collective choice.
The book focuses on representative systems, including
both elections and legislative decision-making
processes, clearly connecting individual preferences to
collective outcomes. This book is not a survey. Rather,
it is the coherent, cumulative result of the authors’
brilliant efforts to indirectly connect preferences to
collective choice through strategic behaviors such as
agenda-selection and voting.
The book will be an invaluable reference and teaching
tool for economists and political scientists, and an
essential companion to any scholar interested in the
latest theoretical advances in positive political theory.
The Reasoning Voter is an insider's look at campaigns, candidates, media, and voters that convincingly argues that voters make informed logical choices. Samuel L. Popkin analyzes three primary campaigns—Carter in 1976; Bush and Reagan in 1980; and Hart, Mondale, and Jackson in 1984—to arrive at a new model of the way voters sort through commercials and sound bites to choose a candidate. Drawing on insights from economics and cognitive psychology, he convincingly demonstrates that, as trivial as campaigns often appear, they provide voters with a surprising amount of information on a candidate's views and skills. For all their shortcomings, campaigns do matter.
"Professor Popkin has brought V.O. Key's contention that voters are rational into the media age. This book is a useful rebuttal to the cynical view that politics is a wholly contrived business, in which unscrupulous operatives manipulate the emotions of distrustful but gullible citizens. The reality, he shows, is both more complex and more hopeful than that."—David S. Broder, The Washington Post
Human beings are social animals. Yet despite vast amounts of research into political decision making, very little attention has been devoted to its social dimensions. In political science, social relationships are generally thought of as mere sources of information, rather than active influences on one’s political decisions.
Drawing upon data from settings as diverse as South Los Angeles and Chicago’s wealthy North Shore, Betsy Sinclair shows that social networks do not merely inform citizen’s behavior, they can—and do—have the power to change it. From the decision to donate money to a campaign or vote for a particular candidate to declaring oneself a Democrat or Republican, basic political acts are surprisingly subject to social pressures. When members of a social network express a particular political opinion or belief, Sinclair shows, others notice and conform, particularly if their conformity is likely to be highly visible.
We are not just social animals, but social citizens whose political choices are significantly shaped by peer influence. The Social Citizen has important implications for our concept of democratic participation and will force political scientists to revise their notion of voters as socially isolated decision makers.
Using classic theories and methodologies, this collection maintains that individuals make political choices by taking into account the views, preferences, evaluations, and actions of other people who comprise their social networks. These include family members, friends, neighbors, and workmates, among others. The volume re-establishes the research of the Columbia School of Electoral Sociology from several decades ago, and contrasts it with rational choice theory and the Michigan School of Electoral Analysis. Written by political scientists with a range of interests, this volume returns the social logic of politics to the heart of political science.
This Bright Light of Ours offers a tightly focused insider’s view of the community-based activism that was the heart of the civil rights movement. A celebration of grassroots heroes, this book details through first-person accounts the contributions of ordinary people who formed the nonviolent army that won the fight for voting rights.
Combining memoir and oral history, Maria Gitin fills a vital gap in civil rights history by focusing on the neglected Freedom Summer of 1965 when hundreds of college students joined forces with local black leaders to register thousands of new black voters in the rural South. Gitin was an idealistic nineteen-year-old college freshman from a small farming community north of San Francisco who felt called to action when she saw televised images of brutal attacks on peaceful demonstrators during Bloody Sunday, in Selma, Alabama.
Atypical among white civil rights volunteers, Gitin came from a rural low-income family. She raised funds to attend an intensive orientation in Atlanta featuring now-legendary civil rights leaders. Her detailed letters include the first narrative account of this orientation and the only in-depth field report from a teenage Summer Community Organization and Political Education (SCOPE) project participant.
Gitin details the dangerous life of civil rights activists in Wilcox County, Alabama, where she was assigned. She tells of threats and arrests, but also of forming deep friendships and of falling in love. More than four decades later, Gitin returned to Wilcox County to revisit the people and places that she could never forget and to discover their views of the “outside agitators” who had come to their community. Through conversational interviews with more than fifty Wilcox County residents and former civil rights workers, she has created a channel for the voices of these unheralded heroes who formed the backbone of the civil rights movement.
What makes people decide to vote? In addressing this simple question, André Blais examines the factors that increase or decrease turnout at the aggregate, cross-national level and considers what affects people’s decision to vote or to abstain. In doing so, Blais assesses the merits and limitations of the rational choice model in explaining voter behavior. The past few decades have witnessed a rise in the popularity of the rational choice model in accounting for voter turnout, and more recently a groundswell of outspoken opposition to rational choice theory.
Blais tackles this controversial subject in an engaging and personal way, bringing together the opposing theories and literatures, and offering convincing tests of these different viewpoints. Most important, he handles the discussion in a clear and balanced manner. Using new data sets from many countries, Blais concludes that while rational choice is an important tool—even when it doesn’t work—its empirical contribution to understanding why people vote is quite limited.
Whether one supports rational choice theory or opposes it, Blais’s evenhanded and timely analysis will certainly be of interest, and is well-suited for advanced undergraduate and graduate-level classes.
Voting is an examination of the factors that make people vote the way they do. Based on the famous Elmira Study, carried out by a team of skilled social scientists during the 1948 presidential campaign, it shows how voting is affected by social class, religious background, family loyalties, on-the-job relationships, local pressure groups, mass communication media, and other factors. Still highly relevant, Voting is one of the most frequently cited books in the field of voting behavior.
Writing in a succinct and lively
manner, leading historians and political scientists trace the history of American
voting from the colonial period to the present incorporating the latest scholarship
on suffrage reform, woman suffrage, black voting rights, and electoral participation.
They explain how voting practices changed over time as the result of broad historical
forces such as economic growth, demographic shifts, the results of war, and
the rise of political reform movements.
Voting the Gender Gap
Edited by Lois Duke Whitaker University of Illinois Press, 2007 Library of Congress HQ1236.5.U6V68 2008 | Dewey Decimal 324.9730082
This book concentrates on the gender gap in voting--the difference in the proportion of women and men voting for the same candidate. Evident in every presidential election since 1980, this polling phenomenon reached a high of 11 percentage points in the 1996 election. The contributors discuss the history, complexity, and ways of analyzing the gender gap; the gender gap in relation to partisanship; motherhood, ethnicity, and the impact of parental status on the gender gap; and the gender gap in races involving female candidates. Voting the Gender Gap analyzes trends in voting while probing how women's political empowerment and gender affect American politics and the electoral process.
Contributors are Susan J. Carroll, Erin Cassese, Cal Clark, Janet M. Clark, M. Margaret Conway, Kathleen A. Dolan, Laurel Elder, Kathleen A. Frankovic, Steven Greene, Leonie Huddy, Mary-Kate Lizotte, Barbara Norrander, Margie Omero, and Lois Duke Whitaker.
In this timely book, Martin Wattenberg confronts the question of what low participation rates mean for democracy. At the individual level, turnout decline has been highest among the types of people who most need to have electoral decisions simplified for them through a strong party system--those with the least education, political knowledge, and life experience.
Why do some voters split their ballots, selecting a Republican for one office and a Democrat for another? Why do voters often choose one party to control the White House while the other controls the Congress? Barry Burden and David Kimball address these fundamental puzzles of American elections by explaining the causes of divided government and debunking the myth that voters prefer the division of power over one-party control. Why Americans Split Their Tickets links recent declines in ticket-splitting to sharpening policy differences between parties and demonstrates why candidates' ideological positions still matter in American elections.
"Burden and Kimball have given us the most careful and thorough analysis of split-ticket voting yet. It won't settle all of the arguments about the origins of ticket splitting and divided government, but these arguments will now be much better informed. Why Americans Split Their Tickets is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the major trends in U.S. electoral politics of the past several decades."
-Gary Jacobson, University of California, San Diego
"When voters split their tickets or produce divided government, it is common to attribute the outcome as a strategic verdict or a demand for partisan balance. Burden and Kimball strongly challenge such claims. With a thorough and deft use of statistics, they portray ticket-splitting as a by-product of the separate circumstances that drive the outcomes of the different electoral contests. This will be the book to be reckoned with on the matter of ticket splitting."
-Robert Erikson, Columbia University
"[Burden and Kimball] offset the expansive statistical analysis by delving into the historical circumstances and results of recent campaigns and elections. ... [They] make a scholarly and informative contribution to the understanding of the voting habits of the American electorate-and the resulting composition of American government."
-Shant Mesrobian, NationalJournal.com
With every presidential election, Americans puzzle over the peculiar mechanism of the Electoral College. The author of the Pulitzer finalist The Right to Vote explains the enduring problem of this controversial institution.
Every four years, millions of Americans wonder why they choose their presidents through the Electoral College, an arcane institution that permits the loser of the popular vote to become president and narrows campaigns to swing states. Most Americans would prefer a national popular vote, and Congress has attempted on many occasions to alter or scuttle the Electoral College. Several of these efforts—one as recently as 1970—came very close to winning approval. Yet this controversial system remains.
Alexander Keyssar explains its persistence. After tracing the Electoral College’s tangled origins at the Constitutional Convention, he explores the efforts from 1800 to 2019 to abolish or significantly reform it, showing why each has thus far failed. Reasons include the tendency of political parties to elevate partisan advantage above democratic values, the difficulty of passing constitutional amendments, and, especially, the impulse to preserve white supremacy in the South, which led to the region’s prolonged backing of the Electoral College. The most common explanation—that small states have blocked reform for fear of losing influence—has only occasionally been true.
Keyssar examines why reform of the Electoral College has received so little attention from Congress for the last forty years, as well as alternatives to congressional action such as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and state efforts to eliminate winner-take-all. In analyzing the reasons for past failures while showing how close the nation has come to abolishing the institution, Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College? offers encouragement to those hoping to produce change in the twenty-first century.
This is the first full history of voting in Wisconsin from statehood in 1848 to the present. Fowler both tells the story of voting in key elections across the years and investigates electoral trends and patterns over the course of Wisconsin’s history. He explores the ways that ethnic and religious groups in the state have voted historically and how they vote today, and he looks at the successes and failures of the two major parties over the years. Highlighting important historical movements, Fowler discusses the great struggle for women’s suffrage and the rich tales of many Wisconsin third parties—the Socialists, Progressives, the Prohibition Party, and others. Here, too, are the famous politicians in Wisconsin history, such as the La Follettes, William Proxmire, and Tommy Thompson.
Winner, Award of Merit for Leadership in History, American Association for State and Local History
Those who do not have their heads buried too deeply in partisan sands will know that there is something awry with the American form of electoral democracy. Florida's continuing ability to misplace votes recently and in the 2000 Presidential election is only part of the iceberg we have been made privy to-and Steven Schier takes a good, hard, evaluative look not only at what is there in plain sight, but that which lurks below the surface (and not only in Florida and not only with the electoral college). He further proposes practical improvements that will make our surprisingly peculiar democratic processes healthy, whole, and responsive again.
Identifying four essential evaluative criteria for a democracy that genuinely works, Schier asks us to examine the degree to which our system promotes political stability, the degree to which our elected officials are held accountable, what the problems are with voter turnout and how to improve it, and asks for a meaningful scrutiny of governmental policy.
No look at our peculiar democracy would be complete without an examination of other established democracies, nor a look at how special interests warp political parties and the concept of majority rule. The solution to many of our electoral problems, Schier argues, lies in enhancing the roles and influence of political parties. Schier proposes reforms that include broadening voter registration; giving parties large blocks of free TV time; adopting one-punch partisan ballots, making it easier for voters to cast a straight-party vote; abandoning initiatives which clutter up the ballot; and utilizing party-based financing to boost voter turnout. With these proposals, he encourages the creative consideration of election reform, and shows how the Florida 2000 race may have played out had these suggestions been in place.
Schier's book appeals to any and every citizen interested in our electoral system and its role in governmental politics. It is invaluable for professionals in political science and ideal for students in American government, political parties, elections, and political behavior courses, as well for political scientists. Any citizens concerned about the conduct of American elections will discover here a fresh and focused analysis of our problems at the ballot box.