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Voting Behavior

Voting Behavior

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Voting Behavior

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  1. Voting Behavior POLS 125: Political Parties & Elections “I never vote for anyone. I always vote against.” —W.C. Fields (1879-1946)

  2. Models of Voting Behavior • Sociological – Vote choice is a function of group membership. • Socio-Psychological – Vote choice is the product of long-standing identifications. • Strategic – Vote choice is a function of the spatial distance between a voter’s policy preferences and the candidate’s issue position.

  3. What is Group Identification? • SELF-CATEGORIZATION: Self-awareness of one’s objective membership in a group • AFFINITY: Psychological sense of attachment to the group

  4. Examples… • African-American • Working class • Single Mom • College student • Republican • Environmentalist • Catholic • Senior Citizen These identities are often ACTIVATED by political parties and their candidates.

  5. Vote Choice for President by Gender *

  6. Why should there be a “gender gap”? • Physical and sociological differences? • Different political priorities? • Different policy preferences?

  7. Trends in Partisan Identification Among Women, 1952-2004

  8. Trends in Partisan Identification Among Men, 1952-2004

  9. Party Strengths Among Male and Female Voters

  10. Top 10 Signs You’re a Security Mom • Your attack dog has a bin Laden chew toy. • You base your SUV purchase on how many places there are to conceal a weapon. • Your neighborhood watch complains you don’t leave any perps for them. • You’ll vote for Bush because the other guy is a wussy. • You traded in your Gucci for the M-30 Leather Gun Purse. • The guys at the range call you ‘Sarge’. • You send your kids to Judo Camp. • Your son quits the Boy Scouts because they were “amateurs”. (MP personal favorite) • Monday is “MRE Night”. • You DO wear combat boots.

  11. Identity Politics, 2008 Identity Politics, 2008 Did blacks support Barack Obama? Did women support Sarah Palin?

  12. 2008 Exit Polls

  13. It turns out that the biggest deal about racial and gender identity in the campaign is that, especially to younger Americans who live and work in a vastly changed country, it isn’t such a very big deal after all.” — Matt Bai, “Retro Identity Politics” vs. “What are we left with, then, as the identity-politics election of 2008 comes to a close? We have a Republican Party more committed than ever to a fetishized picture of working-class white maleness and unthreatening womanhood. We have a Democratic Party freshly aware of how difficult it is to look honestly at the history and reality of race and gender -- but also aware of how powerful those forces are. We've elected our first African American president, but we've done more than that. We've opened up a rawer, more meaningful national conversation about identity than we've had since the heyday of the civil-rights and women's lib movements. Race, gender, and their discontents haven't gone away. The fact that we're talking about them again? That's progress.” — Dana Goldstein, “The Identity Politics Election”

  14. Identity Politics, 2008 "Oprah is a Traitor!!!" "For the first time in history we actually have a chance at putting a woman in the white house and Oprah backs the black MAN. She's choosing her race over her gender – hypocrisy at its finest!!” What happens when social identities collide?

  15. Vote for President by Race, 1952-2004

  16. Racial Resentment? “There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.” — Jimmy Carter

  17. The Youth Vote • There are 43 million U.S. citizens between the ages 18-30. • 64% of 18-30 year old citizens are registered to vote. • 18-30 year olds make up 24% of total pool of eligible voters. • The youth vote increased by 4.6 million in 2004. Voters under the age of 30 made up 17% of the electorate in 2004—roughly the same proportion as in 2000. • In 2004, young voters preferred Kerry to Bush by a margin of 54%-45%.

  18. Life-cycle effects Maturation Role transition Period effects Great Depression Vietnam War 9/11 Cohort effects “Greatest Generation,” 1901-1924 Silent Generation, 1925-1945 Baby Boomers, 1946-1964 Generation X, 1965-1980 Reagan Babies, 1980-1988 Generational Politics "A man who is not a socialist at 20 has no heart; a man who is still a socialist at 40 has no head." —Winston Churchill

  19. Voter Turnout by Age, 2004

  20. Voter Turnout by Age Voter turnout Chronological age

  21. How Apathetic? • 17% of students were interested in “influencing the political structure” (58% of Baby Boomers said the same in 1966). • 26% were interested in “keeping up with political affairs.” • 28% wanted to be “a community leader.” • In contrast, 73% of college freshmen said they wanted to be well-off financially. In 2000, an annual survey of freshmen in the colleges and universities across the country found that:

  22. I Cannot Be Charted I am the youth vote. And I'm tired of being preached at, studied and wooed. I want to be educated, listened to and, most of all, respected. Everyone has a theory as to why I don't vote, but no one really asks me. So I'll explain. I am neither lazy nor apathetic. I'm confused and frustrated. I am told to care about issues like Social Security and health care, when chances are high that I won't even find a job after I graduate from college. I juggle low-wage, part-time jobs or a full-time class schedule, and I'm not necessarily available on Nov. 2. I cannot be accurately represented by percentages and statistics. I cannot be graphed and charted. I am not a Democrat, Republican or other. I'm a mixed bag of experiences and influences, and no one can predict how I will vote when I do vote. I am not ignorant. I know what's going in the world—even if I hear it mostly from "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." And yes, at times I do care more about the latest episode of "The Sopranos" than the headline news. That's because I live the headline news. I know about poverty and crime. I live it every day. I am not disengaged, I'm worn out. Sometimes I feel that no matter how I vote, there will still be war, crime and poverty. And I have other things on my mind. I am worried about skin cancer, drunken drivers, eating disorders, what I'm going to be when I grow up, how I'm going to get there and what I'm going to do Friday night.

  23. I Cannot Be Charted I don't know the difference between President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry because they don't take time out from kissing babies and the behinds of corporate executives to tell me. Anyway, sex scandals, wars based on false pretenses and broken promises have left me cynical about all politicians. Howard Dean tried to change my mind about the political process. He made me a part of his campaign, rather than a target. He recognized the power I hold, rather than ignoring my potential. I am active on campuses across the country, but this part of me is recognized only as a minority--a few bright stars in an otherwise dark night. I am not a dark knight. I will not ride in on my horse come November and steal the election for one candidate or another. I don't know if I will even really vote at all. But I do know that I am 48 million strong. And if someone would just reach out to me--not just during election years, but every day--I would show them overwhelming support at the polls. I am the youth vote. by TRACI E. CARPENTER Newsweek, July 12, 2004

  24. Voter Turnout by Age Delayed maturation? Today, the average age of first-time brides is 25, compared with an average age of 21 in 1964. For first-time grooms, the average age is 27.5, compared with an average age of 24 in 1964. Voter turnout Chronological age

  25. The American Voter (1960) • Partisan identification is learned through pre-adult socialization • It is an enduring psychological attachment, a point of self-reference This view has been under attack ever since…

  26. Key Questions • How changeable is a voter’s partisan identification? • Do feelings of partisanship respond to current political events (e.g., a “running tally”)? • How loyal are self-described partisans? • Has there been a rise in the number of Independents?

  27. Partisan Identification “Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?” “Would you call yourself a strong [DEMOCRAT/REPUBLICAN] or a not very strong [DEMOCRAT/REPUBLICAN]?” [IF INDEPENDENT, NO PREFERENCE, or OTHER] “Do you think of yourself as closer to the Republican Party or to the Democratic Party?” Do all Independents belong in the middle of the political spectrum? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strong Democrat Weak Democrat Lean Democrat Independent Lean Republican Weak Republican Strong Republican

  28. Trends in Partisan Identification, 1952-2004Excluding “Leaners” Source: National Election Studies, various years.

  29. Democratic Expected Vote in Presidential Elections, 1952-2004 Source: National Election Studies, various years.

  30. Trends in Party Affiliation, 2000-2007

  31. Consequences • Party identification encourages an active interest in politics. • Once formed, party identification acts as a short-cut or cue. • It also serves as a filter or perceptual screen, shaping other more specific attitudes, including evaluations of office holders.

  32. Reagan Democrats The term “Reagan Democrats” refers to a group of voters (composed largely of white, ethnic, blue collar, Northerners) who continued to identify with the Democratic Party while voting for Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984.

  33. Key Questions • How changeable is a voter’s partisan identification? • Do feelings of partisanship respond to current political events (e.g., a “running tally”)? • How loyal are self-described partisans? • Has there been a rise in the number of Independents?

  34. A Rise in Independents? • Not all respondents classified as “Independents” label themselves that way. • Most independents are, in fact, “hidden” partisans.

  35. Each of these respondents was ultimately classified as an “Independent.” • “Nothing in that respect. I don’t consider myself anything politically.” • “I ain’t none of them.” • “None.” • “Not anything.” • [Laughs] “You should call me nothing.” • “No preference.” • “I don’t think of myself as anything.” • “It depends.” • “I’m an American.” • “May the best man win. It’s the best candidate.” • “I’m someone who believes in what I believe is a good man who will do the most for the country.” • I’m not a Republican, not a Democrat, not an Independent, and not a Communist.” • I’m nothing. I don’t holler about it.” • [Interviewer asks if the respondent would call himself an Independent.] “You don’t mean one of those minority groups?” • “Oh hell, I don’t know.”

  36. Party Identifiers Voting for Their Party’s Presidential Candidate

  37. Trends in Partisan Identification, 1952-2004Including “Leaners” Source: National Election Studies, various years.

  38. Trends in Partisan Identification, 1952-2004

  39. The Two Americas What divides Americans is authenticity, not something hard and ugly like economics. While liberals commit endless acts of hubris, sucking down lattes, driving ostentatious European cars, and trying to reform the world, the humble people of the red states go about their unpretentious business, eating down-home foods, vacationing in the Ozarks, whistling while they work, feeling comfortable about who they are, and knowing they are secure under the watch of George W. Bush, a man they love as one of their own. — Thomas Frank

  40. “A Victory for People Like Us”

  41. The Two Americas Why is it so puzzling that people vote their convictions rather than their pocketbooks? — Jon A. Shields

  42. FAITH, VALUES FUELED WIN (The Chicago Tribune) VALUES VOTERS’ KEY TO BUSH RE-ELECTION (Fort Worth Star Telegram) MORAL VALUES CITED AS A DEFINING ISSUE OF THE ELECTION (The New York Times) ‘MORAL VALUES’ WERE A PRIORITY FOR VOTERS (Minneapolis Star Tribune) MORAL VALUES DREW VOTERS TO BUSH (Buffalo News) Newspaper Headlines following the 2004 Presidential Election All of these analyses were based on the same questionfrom the same exit poll…

  43. 2004 Exit Poll Results Since “moral values” outranked all other issues in the 2004 exit poll, some argue that Bush won re-election because of a legion of religious voters. Others call it a myth.

  44. Religion and Voting Behavior, 2004

  45. What are “Moral Values”? • Being against gay marriage? • Opposing stem cell research? • Opposing abortion? • Helping the poor? • Withdrawing troops from Iraq? • Character attributes of the candidates? Some argue that the “moral values” controversy rests on a single “dodgy” exit poll question…

  46. The Fault Lines of Religious Belief Evangelicals may be theologically conservative, but they have not always been politically conservative.