Political Beliefs and Behaviors Chapter 4: Political Culture Chapter 7: Public Opinion Chapter 8: Political Participation Chapter 10: Elections and Campaigns
POLITICAL CULTURE CHAPTER 4 In the United States public opinion is the opinion of the whole nation, with little distinction of social class. The politicians, including the members of Congress and of State legislatures, are perhaps not below, yet certainly not above the average level of their constituents. They find no difficulty in keeping touch with outside opinion. They are like the slaves who say “I hear and obey.” James Bryce from The American Commonwealth
The American View of the Political System Main Elements: 1) Liberty (rights) 2) Equality (equal vote; equal opportunity) 3) Democracy (government accountable to the people) 4) Civic duty (interest in community affairs, get involved) “Every man knows that he is himself a part of the government, bound by duty as well as by self-interest to devote part of his time and thoughts to it. He may neglect this duty, but he admits it to be a duty.” ~Bryce 5) Individual responsibility (actions and well-being) Discussion of Walter Lippmann’s “The Phantom Public”
POLITICAL CULTURE ~ A DISTICTIVE AND PATTERNED WAY OF THINKING ABOUT HOW POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC LIFE OUGHT TO BE CARRIED OUT What makes up the political culture in the United States? Religion has also played a significant role in political culture. Orthodox vs. Progressive James Davison Hunter
Political Efficacy Definition: A citizen’s capacity to understand and influence events. Types of Political Efficacy: 1) Internal efficacy - confidence in one’s ability to understand & influence events. 2) External efficacy- belief that system will respond to citizens.
Mistrust of Government There is evidence of mistrust of government since the 1960s. 1) Diminished trust in the President & Congress 2) Stable trust in the Supreme Court 3) Increased trust in state/local governments Why do we mistrust government? 1) Watergate 2) Vietnam 3) Clinton’s scandals 4) Election of 2000 5) Weapons of Mass Destruction 6) Hurricane Katrina
CHAPTER 7 PUBLIC OPINION “Those opinions held by private persons which governments find it prudent to heed.” -- V.O. Key
WHAT IS PUBLIC OPINION Definition~ Collective view of a group of people. • Tends to be uninformed, unstable and can change rapidly. • Americans do not spend a great deal of time thinking about politics. How do we determine public opinion? POLLING! • Random sampling • Large sample size • Stratified quota sample is the best because of homogenous nature of American subgroups • The way a question is asked can affect the answers given Web Resources: www.gallup.com & www.pollingreport.com
Sociological Factors Origins of Political Attitudes Psychological Factors Political Socialization~ The process by which personal and other background traits influence one’s views about politics and government. There are many factors that affect your political attitudes. 1) Family 2) Religion 3) Gender 4) Schooling 5) Occupation Impact of these factors on political socialization is largely dependent on the extent of exposure and one’s receptivity. Political Socialization
Role of the Family Children learn a wide range of values—including political values– from their parents. Party identification of family is usually absorbed, although the child becomes more independent-thinking over time. 60% of children still follow parents- declining from previous years. Younger voters tend to be non-partisan; they register independent. Clear political ideologies are only passed on in a few families.
Role of Religion • Families form and transmit political beliefs through their religious traditions. • Religious make-up of the United States: • 53% Protestant • 25% Catholic • 2.6% Jewish • 19% No affiliation or other • Protestants tend to be more conservative. • Jewish families tend to be more liberal. • Differences in public opinion are most pronounced with respect to social issues.
The Gender Gap The gender gap refers to the differences in political opinion between men & women. Men have become increasingly more Republican since the 1960s. Women have continued to support the Democratic party at the same rate. These trends exist due to attitudinal differences between men & women about the size of government, gun control, social programs & gay marriage.
Schooling Elementary School Introduction of authority figures outside of the classroom Teach national slogans, symbols, norms of group behavior, and democratic decision making Children leave with an idealized notion of government Secondary School Teach civic responsibility and exposure to explicit political content Children still told to adhere to authority dictates College Liberalizing effect, taught to begin to question status quo Professors and campuses tend to be more liberal in nature
Cleavages in Public Opinion A cleavage causes a division amongst ideological lines for citizens about certain topics. Examples: • Race • Region • Occupation • Age • Social class Some cleavages cause more passionate responses from citizens.
Political Ideology Definition- A coherent and consistent set of political beliefs about the proper purpose and scope of government. Ideology is measured by how frequent and consistent someone is over time with their policy preferences.
Liberalism and conservatism • Early 1800s liberals supported personal and economic freedom; conservatives wanted power in the state, church and aristocracy. • FDR ( New Deal)- changed the meaning of liberalism to mean support for an activist government. • Conservatives -favored free market, states’ rights, & economic freedom. • Today’s meanings are less precise.
Mixing Liberals & Conservatives Pure Liberals- liberal on economic and social issues (17%) Pure Conservative- conservative on economic and social issues (28%) Libertarians- conservative on economic issues, liberal on social issues (21%) Populists- liberal on economic issues, conservative on social issues (24%)
Political Participation Chapter 8
Reason for Nonvoting Only about 50% of Americans vote in modern era presidential elections. The common explanation is apathy, but the problem is more pervasive. It includes cost of registration(no mandate/time consuming), party politics, and decreased political efficacy. The motor-voter law (1993) increased registration among eligible voters by allowing registration at government agencies, driver’s licensing facilities and through standard mail-in form.
Expanding Suffrage • Lifting of property restrictions (1830) – “universal manhood suffrage” gave voting rights to all white males. • Suffrage for African-Americans (1863-1964) • 1865 - 15th Amendment – voting rights to all males • 1954 - Brown v. Board – separate but equal is illegal, reduced the power of Jim Crow laws • 1964- 24th Amendment – banned poll tax • 1965 – Voting Rights Act of 1965 – federal law prohibited literacy tests and created more “fair” elections via supervision of suspect areas.
State to Federal Control • States initially decided nearly everything, leading to variation in federal elections. • Congress has since reduced state choice over several matters. • House members elected by district (1842) “Representatives should be elected by districts composed of contiguous territory equal in number to the number of representatives to which said state may be entitled, no one district electing more than one representative." • Direct popular election of U.S. Senators (1913) The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. • Suffrage to women (1920) The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. • Suffrage to blacks (“1870” …1965) The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. • Suffrage to 18-21 year olds (1971) The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
Voter Turnout There are two theories about the decline in voter percentages. • Percentages are real~ The decline in popular interest in elections and competitiveness of the two parties has resulted in a decline in voting. • Percentages are misleading~ They represent a decline caused by more honest ballot counts of today. (Australian ballot) Researchers see several reasons for some real decline. • Registration is difficult • Discrimination • Alternative forms of participation
Who Participates in Politics? 1. Inactive- Rarely vote, do not get involved in organizations, and do not talk about politics- little education, low income, young 2. Voting specialists- People who vote but do little else - not much education/income, older 3. Campaigners- Vote and get involved in the campaign activities. They are very passionate about politics – more education, identify with a party, take strong positions 4. Communalists- Similar to campaigners but do not like conflict and reserve energy for nonpartisan activities, more involved with local issues. 5. Parochial participants- Do not vote and stay out of campaigns but contact local officials about personal problems 6. Complete activists- Tend to be highly educated and high income, and participate in all forms of politics- usually middle-aged
Who Participates in Politics? • Causes of Participation • Educated • Church-goers • Men and women vote same rate • Black participation lower than whites overall unless socioeconomic status is equal • Small factors that decrease turnout • Decreasing effectiveness of parties in mobilizing voters • Remaining obstacles to register • Ethnic minorities encounter language barriers • Some feel that elections do not matter
Campaigns and Elections Chapter 10
Function of the Election • Election campaign- an organized effort to persuade voters to choice one candidate over others competing for the same office. (500,000 publically elected roles) • Political parties are used to conduct all phases of the election campaign. • Winner-take-all – the person with the most votes OR electors wins (doesn’t need over 50%) • Necessary to campaign for the nomination as well as the election.
Presidential Election Process • Each state holds a primaryor caucus between January and June to determine candidates for parties. Parties formally nominate candidates at national conventions • Primary voters have more extreme views than general election voters which can change the candidates campaign strategy. • Types of Primary Elections • Front Loading • Candidates then enter into general elections (a national election held in November in even-numbered years) against the other political parties • More people vote in general elections. In 2004, 50% of people voted in general elections versus 25% in the primaries.
Congressional Elections vs. Presidential Elections • Congress elections are regional ~Senate by state; House by district • House elections are less competitive than Senate or President ~Incumbents– representatives up for reelection, typically win elections by 60% ~Franking privilege • Congressional elections every two years (all House up for reelection and 1/3 of the Senate) • Fewer people vote in “off-year” or “midterm year” (only 36%)
Congressional Elections vs. Presidential Elections Coattail effect - Presidential popularity effecting congressional elections in midterm years • Congress communicates with their constituents more directly, often personally, while President relies on media • Congress reps can deny responsibility and blame problems on other reps or President. Straight ticket vs. Split Ticket
True or False? The candidate with the most votes is elected president. Answer: Not necessarily. Ask Al Gore.
The 2000 Election The Popular Vote (National) Al Gore 50,996,039 George W. Bush 50,456,141 The Popular Vote (Florida-25) Al Gore 2,912,253 George Bush 2,912,790 The Electoral Vote George W. Bush 271 Al Gore 267 The electoral college can sometimes undermine a president’s legitimacy. The outcome of the presidential election was in doubt for over a month, with the Supreme Court eventually determining the outcome of the election by halting the vote count in Florida. Benjamin Harrison v. Grover Cleveland (1888) Rutherford B. Hayes v. Samuel Tilden (1876)
2008 Election The Electoral College The electoral college also reflects the federal nature of the Constitution because it ensures that the states have a role in selecting the president. Each state is entitled to as many electoral votes as the sum of its representation in the U.S. House and Senate • Texas: 32 House members plus 2 senators = 34 electoral votes • Pennsylvania: 19 House members plus 2 senators = 21 electoral votes • Arkansas: 4 House members plus 2 senators = 6 electoral votes Total: 435 House members plus 100 senators plus 3 electors for the District of Columbia = 538 electoral votes Magic #270
Electors • Individuals selected in each state to officially cast that state’s electoral votes. • Pennsylvania selects21 electors to cast the state’s 21electoral votes. • Framers anticipated that electors would be state leaders who would exercise good judgment. • Today, party leaders select competing slates of electors who are typically long-time party activists. • Electors almost always vote for their party’s candidates. • Each state determines the manner of selection • All but two states use a winner-take-all statewide election system (Maine and Nebraska)
What if no one receives a majority? • To win, a candidate needs a majority, that is, 270 electoral votes. • If no candidate has a majority, the House selects the president from among the three presidential candidates with the most electoral votes. Each state delegation has one vote. This last happened in 1824 when Congress chose John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson and William Crawford. • The Senate selects the vice president from the top two vice-presidential candidates.
Criticisms of the Electoral College • Popular Vote • President may not have a plurality of the people’s vote • 2000 Election! • The Faithless Electors • Members of the Electoral College who, for whatever reason, do not vote for their party's designated candidate. • There have been 156 faithless electors. • Congressional “Tie Breaker” • House selects the President with 1 vote delegations for each state • Senate selects the Vice President with the acting Vice President voting in the event of a tie