Second Midterm Review Sheet
In preparinthfor the second midterm examination (which will be given in class on Monday,
October 8 ), you will want to be familiar with the following material on mass political behavior
in the United States.
1. Basic facts aboutAmerican public opinion, such as how it develops (e.g., socialization),
differences among different groups, how it affects politics, how elites and the mass differ,
Public opinion is what we believe and it's important in a democratic country. The
founders wanted to limit the impact of public opinion on policy because they didn't think the
masses always knew what was good. Hamilton: vices of democracy, people are turbulent and
rarely choose what is right. Madison: worried about what the public would do. Founders created
a republic, didn't want us making decisions. Most interested in fulfilling preamble: sociotropic
view: general welfare of community, long term view. Placed numerous checks on public opinion:
staggered elections, super majorities, bill of rights.
3 important facts:
1. Public opinion may conflict with other values: constitutionally protected rights;Alien
and SeditionActs (1798), HUAC (House Un-AmericanActivities Committee) 1950, civil rights,
women's rights, patriot acts; political culture is moderate.
2. Public opinion can be difficult to interpret: often no single public but many publics-
pluralist argument?, people care about different things; many people are uninformed and
unconstrained (they want gov't to provide expensive things without taxes being raised); some
preferences are stable, some are fickle; often sensitive to framing- death penalty; have to read
fine print- inferential stats?, likely voters vs registered voters; polling is changing- cell phones
and internet polling makes it difficult to get an accurate reading; voting is changing- early voting
before debates and important things like that.
3. Public opinion is mediated by elites: not everyone's opinion carries the same weight-
elites are more interested and informed; elites mobilize others- serves as cues for others to vote,
follow the leader kind of thing.
Opinions come from family: what your mommy and daddy believe, you're likely to also
believe. Reference groups like churches affect opinions: Jews have high SES (socioeconomic
status) and are liberal, Catholics have low SES, socially conservative and economically liberal,
Protestants are the dominant tradition and are conservative. We are regarded as a nation of
joiners which reinforces attitudes. Biology: gender gap between men and women, women tend to
be more liberal; age- the older you are the more conservative usually, the young are flexible;
economic class- "we built it" say the wealthy. Education: highly education generally means more
liberal points of view but more education means more wealth which leads to conservatism.
2. The different ways in whichAmericans can participate in politics and the varying levels
at which they do so, paying particular attention to the argument between conservatives and
liberals over the importance of non-participation.
Liberal vs Conservative: Liberalism- proponent of limited government- John Locke;
Conservatism: opponent of French revolution- supported monarchy, socially conservative, larger role for government. Now, they're basically switched. Changed in US during progressive era
(1890-1912) and New Deal (1930s): TR lead progressive republicans (later the bull moose party
in 1912), square deal= curb excesses of business; FDR's New Deal to combat Great Depression-
described greater social welfare; role for national government as liberal- conservatives opposed,
New Deal Realignment occurred in 1930s- Democrats became social spending and modern
liberals, Republicans became less social spending and modern conservatives.
Ideology is bound in US.
Both liberals and conservatives have classic liberal roots: even liberals believe in free
markets (supply and demand not government regulated), even conservatives believe in human
rights and welfare (Bush funding for Planned Parenthood)
More unities between the two than divisions.
Political participation translates into policy, central to claims about government by the
people problem;Americans don't participate much, turnout is about 48% of VotingAge
Population in presidential elections, about 37% in congressional, and less than 8% in Missouri
primary; lower than every other industrial democracy.
Conservative and liberal views: conservatives believe the problem is illusory- numbers
exaggerated, comparison is problematic, little effect on policy; comparisons are unfair and
unwise; numbers from 1800 are inflated- fraud, rotten boroughs, pocket boroughs, "vote early
and vote often";Australian ballot made a difference; (VEP: Voting eligible population excludes
felons and non citizens);Americans vote in more elections than other democracies; higher
turnout rates would have little effect on elections- non voters largely mirror voters; at least 2/3
are indifferent to politics- reasons for not voting include too busy, don't like either candidate, not
angry. Liberals believe the problem is real, voting decline is significant, has an effect on policy;
electorate is biased- educated, employed,Anglos vote more; 2 theories of voting: people vote to
feel plugged in- social capital, people all benefit from things & rational theory- maximum utility
on policy, can understand differences and choose the best candidate; however, incentives have
decreased; people feel less plugged in now, parties developed to accomplish this, parties
weakened during progressive era- primaries,Aussie Ballot, bureaucracy undermines parties, no
socialist parties develop for workers, generally a decline in social capital (Putnam): Bowling
Alone- people pulling apart from each other, decline in fraternal groups, staff centered groups
replace membership groups.
Americans can participate by yard signs, volunteering for campaigns, donating money.
3. What political parties are and do, the different facets of parties (in the electorate, as
organizations, in government), and the history of political parties in the United States.
Many people dislike political parties: Founders were uncomfortable with them-
Washington warned against baneful effects,Adams hated republic divided into parties;
Toqueville said parties are evil inherent in free governments- corrupt, factional, not independent.
Political scientists: Michael Munger says parties are most fundamental of all democratic
institutions, organized opinion. Definition of political parties: groups that seek to elect candidates
to public office by supplying them with a label by which they are known to the public; Different
from other interest groups- labels, contest elections- they want to lobby whoever gets elected,
parties aggregate, collection of interests, other articulate like interest groups.
Structure provides incentives for parties to be large, centrist?, inclusive, contrast with PR.
Third parties are unimportant, have no chance. Little national organization- primary purpose is
quadrennial convention for president. GOP better organized than Democrats- Bill Brock's leadership after Watergate, Democrats playing catch up ever since modernization, more
ideological, wealthier base, democrats donate time, reps donate money.
Parties most interested in winning elections. Function of the electorate. Before voters
choose reps, reps choose voters. Parties are not very responsible: responsible parties are
disciplined, vote together, can be held collectively responsible (Great Britain). But have become
more coherent and cohesive- few liberal republicans, few conservative democrats. *CPG:
Conditional Party Governemnt: conditions are right for parties to pull apart.
Parties facilitate process of governing: party in power- staffs government, controls
agenda; party out of power- loyal opposition, offers alternatives.
Three levels in party
1. Party in electorate: aka partisanship; PartyID, weakened in recent decade
(independent), changed because of education, media, bureaucracy, yet most still have PID.
Socializes, educates, mobilizes; Guides and focuses a messy process- limits number of
alternatives for consideration, prevents cycling amongst options; partisanship helps citizens
make sense of politics: economizing device, gives short cut, 2 choices, we want as little thought
as possible; perceptual screen: humans dislike cognitive dissonance= confronted with confusing
2. Party as organization: services to candidates to contest election, strengthened in recent
decades- Bill Brock after Watergate. Recruit candidates for office- cultivates farm team?,
manages ambition; serve as cue giver: to donors for dollars, to citizens for voters; provide
resources: wide variety, money especially early money (EMILY: Early Money Is Like Yeast),
endorsements, networks, GOTV, candidate schools, donor lists.
3. Party in government: office holders and staffs, strengthened in recent decades-