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Chapter 10-11

PSCI 1101 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10-11: Lastminute.Com

Political Science
Course Code
PSCI 1101
Anand Sokhey

of 3
Chapter 10: Elections and Voting
“The Voice of the People: An Echo,” from The Responsible Electorate, Key
oVoice of the people = an echo of candidates/parties vying for support
oPopular judgment can only reflect “ambiguity, uncertainty, or…
foolishness if those are the qualities of the input into the echo
oLogic of voting decision? Effort of social scientists to understand
voting decision = important bc of the ways political
candidates/leaders will respond to them
Ex: if research says that voters = influenced by image/style
instead of political substance, that’s what candidates will offer
If candidates are only offered images/styles, eventually that is
all they will expect
oKey says that voters are easily-manipulated fools
Influenced by campaign tactics
Vote according to social groups
oIndividual voters may behave differently, but electorate as a large
behaves as expected
oOVERALL: “electorate made sensible decisions based upon a concern
for public policy, performance of government, and personalities of
“The Unpolitical Animal: How Political Science Understands Voters”, Menand
oHow well do Americans reflect ideal of engaged/involved citizens?
Key = as a whole, do well in making collective judgments
Converse = Americans can’t be “ideal” citizens bc of
minimal/inconsistent political beliefs
Have opinions with no strong connection to principles
Do elections represent the will of the people?
oMenand’s three theories to make sense of failure to be “ideal” citizens
Elections = random events in which voters respond to “slogans,
misinformation, sensational news, last-minute sensational
news, etc.”
Voter decisions are guided by elite opinion, not random
Elites = understand issues, work within ideological
structures, find ways to preach to voters to gain
Thus, elections are about interests/beliefs of rival elites
Voters use information shortcuts (heuristics) to settle on
verdicts that are meaningful
Shortcuts that make sense to them (ex: which candidate
= more optimistic)
Instead of weighing principles/policy positions
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find more resources at oneclass.com
“Telling Americans to Vote, or Else” Galston
oLow rate of election turnout
oDropped after 1960, picked up in 2004/2008 (55-62%)
oMidterm congressional races/state/local level elections = even lower
oWhy? How to increase?
Make voter registration easier
Allowing registration on the day of election
More absentee voting/early in-person
Extending voting hours
Making Election Day a national holiday
oGalston: Mandatory voting
Employed in over thirty countries, enforced with fines
Results in turnout = significant
Three advantages
Strengthen the concept of citizenship by reminding
citizens of responsibilities
Reduce skews in turnout across groups (.’. better reflect
composition of the population)
Reduce polarization in American politics
Chapter 11: Political Parties
“The Decline of Collective Responsibility in American Politics” Fiorina
oPolitical parties clarify policy alternatives/provide accountability
o1980’s = decline in electorate, government, party organizations
oDecline eliminates motivation for parties to define policy objectives
oLeads to lowered political participation and rise in alienation
oPolitics: serving narrow interests of groups that dominate politics
instead of broad parties
oWithout strong political parties, politics suffers a decline in collective
oCorrupt political parties of 1800’s = machines run by bosses
oOVERALL: parties = best institutional device to hold elected officials
“Be Careful what you wish for: the Rise of Responsible Parties in American
National Politics” Rae
o25 years after Fiorina
oAmerican parties developed to be more cohesive, policy-focused,
determined to implement agendas, active in elections
oMore unified more determined to exercise authority
oCandidate recruitment/training, fundraising, advertising
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find more resources at oneclass.com
oDifficult for outsider presidential candidates to win over party
insiders; candidates = middle of the PARTY, not middle of the NATION
oPartisanship = rising, split-ticket voters = lowering
oNot so beneficial
Strengthening of parties =/= improved governmental
process/enhanced representative democracy
Parties = defined by interests, instead of interests straddling
many parties
American parties =/= “responsible parties”
Do a better job of pursuing coherent agendas
BUT federalism makes truly responsible parties unlikely
find more resources at oneclass.com
find more resources at oneclass.com