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What Affects Voter Choice?

What Affects Voter Choice?

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What Affects Voter Choice?

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  1. What Affects Voter Choice? • Demographics? • Ideology? • To some extent, but not as much anymore. • 1) people are not very ideologically consistent • 2) not a lot of true ideological variance in the American system. • Partisanship? • Yes, but increasingly a less powerful an affect w/ the rise of independents and direct techology • Image of Candidate? • Issues /Record ?

  2. Ideology Defined • Ideology is a value system or belief system accepted as fact or truth by some group. An ideology provides the believer with a picture of the world both as it is and as it should be, and in doing so, organizes the tremendous complexity of the world into something fairly simple and understandable

  3. Political Ideology • In its simplest formulation, an ideology that focuses on the political. It relates to the beliefs of a group or an individual.

  4. Modern Political Ideologies • “Conservatives”--are defined as individuals who emphasize the market place as a means of distributing economic benefits but look to government to uphold traditional social values.

  5. Modern Political Ideologies • “liberals”--favor activist government as an instrument to promote equality or widely distribute economic benefits, but reject the notion that government should favor a particular set of social values.

  6. Modern Political Ideologies • “populists” are defined as individuals who share with conservatives a concern for traditional social values but, like liberals, favor an active role for government in providing for economic security.

  7. Modern Political Ideologies • “libertarians”-- are opposed to government intervention in both the economic and social spheres.

  8. Problem with Ideology is that it is often domain specific • Phillip Converse argued in an article entitled “The Nature of Belief Systems” that ideology is frequently inconsistent. For example, it is possible to be a “liberal” on issues of national defense while being a “conservative” on fiscal matters.

  9. What affects Voter Choice? • Issues vs. Image • The “Issues” are those things that a candidate says to make people vote for them. • The “Image” of a candidate is how they “appear to the voters” • Now we realize it is all about “Message” • The idea here is that the voting decision is a choice among alternativesavailable not the best choice for the job nor real differences in political ideology or programs.

  10. Issue Driven:Two Types of Voting... • Prospective voting—describes some voters who are highly informed on the issues and cast their ballots on this basis. These voters know the issue positions of candidates and choose the candidate whose proposals best match their positions.

  11. Issue Driven:Two Types of Voting... • Retrospective voting—when voters support the incumbent party or candidate irrespective of their ideology but because they are pleased with the performance of a candidate. Similarly it is retrospective voting when a voter reverses their position when they are displeased with a candidates performance. • retrospective voting can be an effective form of popular control because it forces public officials to anticipate the voters’ likely response in the next election.

  12. 3 Sources of Power in Politics • Framing the Debate--the power to influence how events and issues are interpreted • Agenda Setting--the power to bring public attention to particular issues and problems • Campaigns and Elections --the power to shape popular perceptions of politicians and political leaders AND WHAT ISSUES ARE IMPORTANT

  13. Controlling the Agendain Politics • In politics today there is a titanic struggle going on over what is known as agenda setting. • On one side are POLITICIANS, who believe that THEY should decide what their campaigns will be based on, and if the voters don’t like the issues they’ve chosen to run on, they won’t win.

  14. Controlling the Agendain Politics • On the other side is the media. A new and interesting school of journalism called civic journalism, asserts that too many difficult issues are ignored during campaigns.

  15. Controlling the Agendain Politics • Why is this important? Because the issues that dominate an election become the issues that office holders are obliged to deal with. • How do you set the agenda? • Message and focus!

  16. Sample Campaign Radio Spot • I’m Dan Holliman, candidate for governor. If I’m elected, I will do everything in my power to attack the number one issue facing our state: • too much sugar in our breakfast cereals. As a father, I have seen my own children so hopped up on Sugar Pops, they were bouncing off the walls. Then they get to school and they’re too wired to work. They wind up disrupting the class, making smart-aleck comments to the teacher and getting into fights during recess. Then, when the sugar rush wears off, they’re lazy and lethargic. Sugar-filled cereals are screwing up our test scores, contributing to the dropout rate and leading our children on a frenzied rush to a life of crime. Make me your governor and Cap’n Chrunch will go down with his ship.

  17. Likely Opinion Page Response • “Without so much as a word about security, abortion, environment, taxes, crime or welfare, Mr. Holliman seeks our state’s highest office. A jeremiad against processed sugar is ludicrous. The food manufacturers and the FDA assure us the cereals are perfectly healthy. Mr. Holliman would do well to broaden his horizons, abandon his Don Quixote quest against Count Chocula and address the real issue facing this state”

  18. Staying on Message!!! • “You want to fight crime? Stop sending kids into the world wired on Cocoa Puffs. You want security. Keep the snipers away from the cold cereal. You want to reduce welfare dependency? Help low-income families afford brain food like wheat germ. Abortion? There’d be a lot fewer unwanted pregnancies if teenagers’ brains weren't scrambled by all that sugar. And the environment? The crap we pour into our unsuspecting kid’s cereal bowls each morning contains as many toxins as a Superfund site.” The reasons the newspaper is attacking my candidacy is because it’s in the pocket of the grocery stores.

  19. How not to win an election… • I’m Dirk Dolittle. I’m running for governor because I truly love this state. I was born here. My lovely wife, Louise, and I have raised three wonderful children here. If you love our state as much as we do, if you want us to have a future as bright as the best days of our proud past, I’d appreciate your support.

  20. Major Kinds of Campaign Strategies that Candidates Use • Positive • War of Attrition-- “Take what you can get” • Issue Dominated • Winning your Base • Coalition Politics • Change the nature of the electorate • Draw the Difference • Diversion • Hard Negative • Attach yourself to larger Issues

  21. Wedge Issues In American Politics • Gay Rights • Guns • Abortion • Development vs. Environment • Labor vs.. Business • Sex (harassment and education) • Race • Haves vs. Have nots • Religion in Schools

  22. Public Opinion • Defined as... • Those opinions held by private persons that governments find it prudent to heed. • (V.O. Key) • “prudent” because of their concern about their electoral fates • need not be actively expressed--even if public opinion is latent, public officials may act or fail to act because they fear arousing it.

  23. Sources ofPublic Opinion • Socialization • encompasses all the ways in which people learn beliefs and values in their families, schools, communities, churches, and workplaces. • Interests • Some of the opinions people hold are based on their personal interests or the interests of others like them

  24. Sources of Public Opinion • Education • promotes tolerance to differing views • The more highly educated are more tolerant • the values emphasized in higher education--logical argument, open-mindedness, unemotional analysis--predispose the educated, liberal and conservatives alike to a somewhat greater acceptance of people and practices different form them and theirs

  25. Sources of Public Opinion • The Media • Is opinion determined by the media? The answer is very unclear. • Under some circumstances the media can move public opinion, while under other circumstances the media are ineffectual.

  26. Critics of Public Opinion • Because of their prominence, some critics charge that American government has degenerated into “government by opinion poll” • But the real problem is that public opinion is not some well-defined, stable object that can be easily and accurately measured. It is often a “moving target”.

  27. Problems of Public Opinion • Mismeasurement • Public Opinion Often is Uninformed • Public Opinion is Often Unconnected • Public Opinion is Often Inconsistent

  28. Example of “mismeasurement” • In 1993 one poll indicated that 22 percent of the American public believed it • “possible that Nazi extermination of the Jews never happened.” • Another 12 percent were unsure. In total , one-third of all Americans apparently entertained doubts that the Nazis had murdered over 6 million Jews (and others) in World War II.

  29. Clarity in Polling • The Roper question was worded this way... • “Does it seem possible, or does it seem impossible to you that the Nazi extermination of the Jews never happened?”

  30. Clarity in Polling • One of the first rules of survey research--the scientific design and administration of public opinion polls-- is to keep questions clear and simple. • The Roper question fails that test because it contains a double negative--”impossible...never happened”--a grammatical construction long known to confuse people.

  31. Clarity in Polling • An Alternative Question (and results!) • Does it seem possible to you that the Nazi extermination of the Jews never happened, or do you feel certain that it happened? • With this question, less than 10 percent of the sample were “Holocaust doubters”.

  32. Two Main Point to Remember • I. Public Opinion is extremely important in a democracy. Why? Because people care deeply about what their fellow citizens believe—in large part because they believe that in the long run public opinion determines what government does.

  33. Two Main Points To Remember • II. Whatever its importance, it is often difficult to know what “public opinion” is. • One has to carefully look at the question. • Question wording can produce significant differences in measured opinion.

  34. Another Example • We are faced with many problem in this country, none of which can be solved easily or inexpensively. I am going to name some of these problems and for each one I’d like you to tell me whether you think we’re spending too much money , too little money, or about the right amount.

  35. Another Example • When the public was asked about “welfare” in the Spring of 1994 the responses were as followed: • Too little 13% • About right 25% • Too much 62%

  36. Another Example • When the same people in the same poll were asked about “assistance to the poor” a large majority responded that too little was being spent: • too little 59% • About right 25% • Too much 16%

  37. Problems of Public Opinion • Mismeasurement • Public Opinion Often is Uninformed • Public Opinion is Often Unconnected • Public Opinion is Often Inconsistent