Week 4 – readings 10/10/2013 8:12:00 AM
Chapter 8 – Fiorina
Research indicates that much of electoral behavior is predictable in advance.
Public enters the election period w/attitudes & loyalties mostly in place.
Most important: how close the candidates’ values & preferences are to thers.
Favours candidates who seek the political center.
1/3 – ½ voters decide on how to vote before the primaries.
½ - 2/3 decide before the fall campaign.
Answer: Americans have a longer time horizon than the considerations that
dominate news coverage.
Emphasize party loyalties & government performance.
NOT policy proposals/candidate personalities.
Why elections don’t matter:
Do not give regular Americans much influence.
Discouraged by the performance of political institutions.
Legal changes to open up the electoral system – limiting campaign spending,
making election laws fairer – would correct flaws.
Candidates might not keep their promises – impede voters from voting.
Not equipped to assess candidates on policy proposals.
Unfair media coverage
Why elections matter:
Matter more in US today than ever before
Naturally skeptical based on the opposite diagnosis.
Good performance by gov’t suggests competent leadership.
Voters vote for the same candidate again – why fix something that isn’t
Party identification – person’s subjective feeling of affiliation with a party.
Two-thirds view themselves as Democrats or Republicans.
Strong view point similar to religious view.
Learned in childhood, not as flexible, resistant to change.
Partisanship responds but gradually.
Makes elections much more predictable.
Yellow-dog Democrats – Civil War. People wouldn’t vote for a republican
even if the Democrat nominee was a yellow dog. Strong party affiliation. Democratic groups – African-Americans, urbanites, Catholics traditionally.
Republican groups – wealthy, rural residents, southerners, white
protestants-evangelicals especially traditionally.
Gender gap – divided the political preferences of men & women.
NOT resultant from “women’s issues” – abortion – which were viewed
similarly by both genders.
Long-standing gender differences over the use of force & responsibility of
gov’t to address social ills.
i.e. favour death penalty, diffic