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Lecture 4&5.doc

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Political Science
Charles Hoffman

February 15/12 Voting in Canada - Canada used FPTO electoral system o MPs are elected from single member districts on a basis of who wins a plurality of the vote What are we doing when we vote? - Choose a representative for your riding - Indicate which party we want to see lead the countries government - AND/OR indicate which party we want to have more strength/representation in Parliament o Voice support for particular policies or leaders - AND/OR ensure that the party of our choice gets funding for future elections - Questions: are voters instrumental or expressive? Aldrich et al - Civic duty o Some people vote out of obligation o Some people vote out of habit  Once people vote, they rarely stop (for good). Challenge is often seen as getting people to vote for the first time Habit - Habits become automated through repetition in the same or similar contexts - Repeated voting may not be habitual: o Campaign activity focuses on previous voters o Enjoyed voting once (or election outcome), and now you’ll do it again o Lower information barriers (never done it, don’t know how) o Self-conceptualization: “I am a voter. I participate.” Voters with strong habits (and not) - Aldrich et al find that indicators of habit matters - “motivational variables” have significant and substantive effects on turnout on those who do not have a strong habit of voting o Social psychological explanations of vote o Rational choice explanations (calculus of voting) Why people do not vote - Indifference o No important differences among options - Ambivalence o See differences, but cannot choose between them - Alienation o No options are close enough to ideal to form affect - Some combination of the three - Look the same o Many of these people act the same in certain campaign situations (they often don’t vote!) What influences turnout - Systemic institutional effects - Social and demographic effects - Election or campaign specific effects Systemic and institutional effects - Voter registration laws (costs)) o Poll taxes and other legal barriers - How often elections are held - PR vs. FPTP - Are elections held on holidays or weekends (costs) - Federal, provincial, local or a combination election? - Secret ballots - Compulsory voting: tax or fine associated with no-turnout - Limits on what candidates can give to voters (no or little private benefits) - Limits on campaign advertising and spending Social demographic effects - Level of economic development (higher = higher turnout) o Could be a proxy for how parties compete and strength of democracy (clientelistic competition tends to have lower turnout) - Age of population - Race - Low levels of interpersonal trust and political efficacy decrease participation o People with greater confidence in their own ability to understand and engage in politics o Associated with how well you know others in your community, and how much you have previously been engaged in politics and/or membership group activities. Election and campaign effects - Contacted by party of candidate? o If asked to vote, there is a cost to saying “no, thank you” o This “cost” is often greater than opportunity costs of voting for many people - Close election campaign - Incumbent running for re-election or “open” seat - High profile race with much media attention - How many parties are running? o Although, if too many choices, some people may be unable to decide and therefore not vote - Perceived differences between parties - Likeability of candidates/parties o Negative ads often have a small effect – but might also increase B differential Combinations - Less educated are more likely to vote in federal elections than local elections o People who are educated and relatively affluence are more likely to be mobilized - Expanding the franchise can decrease turnout % o Younger voters o Voters who have been in country for shorter time - Riding size can all one to personally know one or more candidates, but small ridings may make it harder for voters to know who is running in their area Turnout influences policy - Politicians promise/provide benefits to population groups likely to support them o Less likely to provide and policies to groups that do not vote o MORE ON SLIDES - Little evidence that policy preferences of voters and non-voters are very different Choices - Little differences in views about racial minorities - More support for fewer immigrant - Less libertarian on role of government in creating jobs Duverger and the number of parties Social conditions are number of parties - Nothing about social conditions that determine exactly which party you will vote for or how many parties you will be choosing - Political scientists tend to focus on institutional determinants of the number of parties - Does the FPTP influence how many people vote? why this question is important: - In the context of democratization efforts in first wave of post-war independence wave, common question: o What electoral systems should a newly independent/newly democratic country choose? - Arose a need to better understand how electoral systems affected patterns of democratic competition - There were well-known arguments for FPTP Normative and political movements - FPTP often gives bonus to two largest parties, as these parties take higher percentage of seats than they get in support o Increases offs of single-party government o Desirable for some democratizing leaders  Especially if over-confident and/or did not fully believe their competition was legitimate What do you want to win? - FPTP typically means election is about control of government, not participation in government - Decisive election means that government formation is typically derived from election results, not post-election coalition bargaining PR and coalitions - Coalition bargaining can confuse responsibility for government performance - PR was also a vehicle for minorities to gain some representation - But, parties can’t always set aside differences to govern as a cumulative majority Duverger - Observed that the simple majority single ballot system favours the two-party system o US political scientist William Riker clarifies: plurality elections favours two parties o First noted by Droop in 1869 - Separately: run-off and PR favours multi-partyism Duverger’
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