POLS Chapter 11 Notes
POLS Chapter 11 Notes POLS 1101
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This 16 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kyla Brinkley on Monday November 9, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to POLS 1101 at University of Georgia taught by Ryan Bakker in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 25 views. For similar materials see American Government in Political Science at University of Georgia.
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Date Created: 11/09/15
Kyla Brinkley POLS 1101 Notes Fall 2015 Bakker I. Chapter 11: Voting, Campaigns, & Elections a. The Logic of Elections i. America = representative democracy ii. The size of the new America made self-government by direct democracy impossible (transaction costs) iii. Had to delegate authority to small number of representative agents 1. Any delegation of authority raises possibility of agency loss 2. When we engage someone to act on our behalf, we face the risk that they will but their interests above ours iv. Elections ameliorate the delegation problem 1. Give ordinary citizens say in who represents them 2. Prospect of future elections gives officeholders who want to keep (or improve) their jobs a motive to be responsive agents 3. Elections provide incentives for the small set of citizens who want to replace the current officeholders to keep a close eye on representatives and tell everyone else about any misconduct they detect v. Elections don’t guarantee faithful representations vi. US holds more elections for more public offices than any other nation b. The Right to Vote i. Every American colony had a property qualification for voting 1. Also these groups could not vote: Catholics, Jews, Native Americans, freed black slaves 2. Women rarely allowed to vote ii. When Constitution was adopted only half of the free adult male population could vote iii. Wider Suffrage for Men 1. Most adults were poor, illiterate, & dependent: servants, tenants, paupers, etc.—COULDN’T VOTE 2. Upper-class minority: well-born/educated took right to govern for granted a. Didn’t want the poor to change social order or have a say 3. But more men could vote in American colonies because it was easier to acquire land 4. “no taxation without representation” demanded home rule but also implied that anyone who paid taxes should have right to vote 5. Declaration of Independence lead to more voting rights: all men created equal 6. Universal suffrage for white men was achieved in the 1840s a. Jacksonian democracy iv. Suffrage for Women 1. Other groups slowly gained suffrage after white males 2. Women’s suffrage movement grew directly out of antislavery movement th a. Technically 15 amendment allowed black men to vote but not black or white women- frustrating b. But, white southerners preventing black men from voting further barred women as well 3. Women’s suffrage gained through protests as well as expansion of education/entry of women into workforce outside the home 4. Women’s suffrage: 19 amendment, 1920 v. Suffrage for African Americans, Young Americans 1. Voting Rights Act 1965: signed by LBJ, abolished bathiers that prevented minorities from voting 2. 26 amendment, 1971, lowered voting age to 18 in response to Vietnam War a. Most of the troops fighting in Vietnam were under 21 b. Those who risk their lives on the battlefield should have a voice in governing the nation they are defending c. Who Uses the Right to Vote? i. Elections have collective benefits: free rider problems 1. People enjoy payoffs of elections even if they haven’t helped produce them by voting 2. Likelihood that a single vote will influence anyone is minute 3. Also, if there is no real chance that a vote will be decisive, it doesn’t matter if the vote is right or wrong 4. Ignorance, like abstention from voting, is rational ii. Individual Factors Affecting Turnout 1. Age/education have strongest influence on voting 2. Blacks, Hispanics, people living in the South are less likely to vote 3. People with deeper roots in their communities (longtime residents, people with jobs) more likely to vote 4. People with greater confidence in their own ability to understand & engage in politics (internal efficacy) and in their ability to influence the decisions of gov (external efficacy) are more likely to vote 5. People w/ stronger partisan views/electoral preferences and those who live in areas with active parties/competitive campaigns are more likely to vote 6. Turnout is higher when legal barriers to registration are lower 7. Voting rates for men & women are about the same a. Also those who distrust gov are also just as likely to vote as everyone else b. There HAS been a decline in participation between the 1960s & 1990s but it did not result from the increase in public cynicism/mistrust since 1960 8. People participate when they can meet the costs & appreciate the benefits, so voting is rational for the millions of people who gain personal satisfaction from voting because expressing themselves through voting outweighs the modest cost of casting a ballot iii. Institutional Factors Affecting Turnout 1. Institutional context, like variations in registration laws, affect turnout equally a. poll taxes, literacy tests, requirements to register periodically discouraged blacks from voting after the Civil War, but also poor whites b. after the voting rights act, voting in both groups increased sharply 2. before 2012, many states required a photo ID to vote, raising cost of participation for poor/minority voters who are less likely to have driver’s licenses or passports a. they are likely to vote for democrats, so usually republicans supported this requirement 3. social connections also create personal incentives to participate 4. often, people participate because they are asked, so many candidates implore everyone to vote a. ex: Obama 2008, 2012 5. wealthy, well educated, older white people are overrepresented while poor, uneducated, young nonwhites are underrepresented a. unequal resources b. people w/ social advantages more mobilized by parties, interest groups, campaign orgs c. political leaders target people who are cheapest to reach/likeliest to respond iv. Variations in Turnout over Time 1. Turnout declined from 68% in 1952-1968 to 55% in 1992-2000 and back up to 58% after 2012 election a. Easier registration/increased formal education had positive effect on turnout b. BUT, letting 18 year olds vote reduced turnout because it added to the pool a group least likely to vote (those under 25) c. Also, less people had deep community roots, felt politically efficacious, for felt strongly about parties/candidates d. Major reasons were institutional i. Decline in mobilization: “getting out the vote”. Occurs when activists working for parties, candidates, or interest groups ask members of the electorate to vote ii. Media campaigns are expensive so more efforts are used to mobilize voters in more competitive races only 1. After civil rights movement efforts to get blacks to vote declined 2. Same with decline of labor movement iii. Decline was especially evident in poor, uneducated citizens—most dependent on outside stimulation 1. Smaller electorate=larger upper- class bias v. How Do Voters Decide? 1. Voter has to choose candidate they think will produce a better outcome in some relevant sense than another candidate 2. Because effect of each single vote is small, people don’t but much effort into acquiring info that will reduce uncertainty a. Use simple cues/cognitive shortcuts and rely heavily on the free info delivered by news media, campaign ads, opinion leaders, & their own experience vi. Past Performance & Incumbency 1. Many people vote for incumbents who have performed well 2. Presidents seeking reelection are often held accountable for national economy a. Inflation, unemployment, economic growth rates b. Economic problems hurt Carter & H.W. Bush but helped Reagan & Clinton get reelected c. Reagan: “are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?” 3. Presidents also reviewed for conduct of foreign policy 4. Performance of reps & senators is measured by their success in providing services/projects for their states/districts or casting acceptable votes in congress 5. Some voters hold president’s party as a whole responsible a. Democrats lost control of the House in 2010 midterm elections vii. Assessing the Issues & Policy Options 1. Personal experience provides lots of politically relevant info 2. Those w/o direct experience w/ certain issues learn about them through the news media 3. Many people also compare future policy options of each candidate 4. Single-issue voters: people who base their votes on candidates’ or parties’ positions on one particular issue of public policy, regardless of the candidates’ or parties’ positions on other issues 5. Other voters may focus on a bundle of issues viii. Voter Cues & Shortcuts 1. Voter take cues from opinion leaders because the free information about candidates’ positions provided by news media/campaigns can’t always be taken at face value 2. Voters make predictions based on the candidate’s personal characteristics a. Competence b. Experience c. Honesty d. Knowledge e. Leadership skills f. Sex g. Race h. Ethnicity i. Age j. Place of residence 3. Voters feel that people who ae like them are more likely to think and act as they would, which helps because much of what these agents do is out of public sight a. Can’t monitor behavior of elected officials 4. Party label: a label carrying the party’s “brand name”, incorporating the policy positions and past performance voters attribute to it 5. Performance voting: voting for the party in control, or “in-party” when one thinks the government is performing well and voting for the “outs” when one thinks the party in charge is performing poorly 6. Issue voting: voting for candidates based on their positions on specific issues, as opposed to their party or personal characteristics 7. Most voters drastically simplify their electoral evaluations and decisions by developing a consistent bias in favor of the candidates of one of the major parties, making the party label the most influential “endorsement” of all ix. The Power of Party Identification 1. Party identification: an individual’s enduring affective or instrumental attachment to one of the political parties; the most accurate single predictor of voting behavior 2. The connection between party identification & vote choice varies over time but is always quite powerful 3. There are enough independents & partisan defectors to keep party identification alone from determining who wins or loses elections d. Election Campaigns i. Experienced campaigners are aware of voters’ reliance on free info & cognitive shortcuts and create strategies accordingly ii. The Basic Necessities: Candidates & Messages 1. Basic necessities of any campaign: candidate, message, way to inform voters about both 2. Candidate: a person who is running for elected office a. Must be portrayed as sufficiently qualified/trustworthy for the job 3. Quality of House & Senate candidates varies with their prospects for success a. The smaller the chances of winning, the less likely the talented & ambitious are to run 4. Getting out the Message a. Message: in a political campaign, the central thematic statement of why voters should prefer one candidate over others i. Shaped by candidates’ theories about the political beliefs, perceptions, values, and responses of different segments of the electorate b. Campaigns invest heavily in research c. Focus group: a method of gauging public opinion by observing a small number of people brought together to discuss specific issues, usually under the guidance of a moderator i. Test themes, monitor effects of campaign ads/events d. Campaign messages are chosen opportunistically for pres. and Congress e. Candidates work hard to convey message that they understand & care about the concerns of their fellow citizens i. Despite backgrounds, show they chare common ground w/ all voters ii. “a candidate I would want to have a beer with” iii. Empathy f. Acquiring & maintaining a public image appropriate to the office sought is a particular challenge for pres. candidates, who are subject to intense scrutiny by their opponents & the news media i. Campaigns start shortly after the midterm election if not sooner g. Fight for attention & ensure that they shape their own public image h. Candidates w/ famous names and money have an advantage but are also targeted i. Money doesn’t always win nomination i. Televised debates are also a challenge and are expected i. Usually independent/minor party candidates are excluded ii. Demand preparation/rehearsal iii. Rarely cover new campaign ground iv. Popular because shows candidates up close under pressure v. Helps voters frame choices vi. Candidates in House and Senate usually avoid debates to deny their obscure opponents free publicity/opportunity to upstage them 5. Negative Campaigning: pointed personal criticism of the other candidate. Normal sometimes ugly component of the electoral process, and effective a. People hate it and remember it b. Negative ads exploit voters’ uncertainty inherent in the delegation of authority to powerful agents c. Inform people about candidates but make them less enthusiastic about voting at all d. Negative or not campaign ads are rarely subtle because their targets are the rationally ignorant, marginally involved voters who haven’t made up their minds e. Simplicity, repetition, exaggeration, symbolism (images of home, family, neighborhood, flag) f. Accuracy not a priority g. Successful campaign i. Goal is to win majority of votes, not every vote ii. Planners research to figure out target voters iii. Swing voters important iv. Highlight candidates strengths & opponent’s weaknesses v. Single theme to show why candidate should be elected and opponent should not vi. Need money iii. The Other Necessity: Campaign Money 1. Voters need to hear about candidate 2. For most of US history, party orgs/newspapers were sources of political propaganda a. Marches, rallies, picnics, speakers, door to door canvassing, distributed pamphlets, broadsides, posters b. Campaign was a team affair 3. After WWII, TV gained popularity as campaign medium a. Parties lost central role b. By 1960s parties province of individual candidates & their personal orgs c. Candidates assemble own campaign teams, raise funds, hire consultants, design strategies d. This costs $$$ 4. Regulating Campaign Money a. Currently all the money spent on major campaigns for federal offices comes from private sources b. Privately financed elections raise 2 problems for American democracy i. Democracy demand political equality: one person, one vote. But because money is distributed unequally, its role in electoral politics threatens democratic equality ii. Privately financed elections raise the suspicion that elected officials will serve as agents of their contributors rather than of their constituents. iii. Dilemma: meaningful elections require money but the pursuit of money can subvert the very purpose of elections c. Prior to 1970s campaign money was unregulated d. Later, higher costs accelerated demand for campaign money and the fear that winners would favor contributors over constituents e. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) 1971, amended 1974. Provided partial public funding for presidential campaigns and required full public reporting of & strict limits on all contributions & expenditures in federal elections i. Established Federal Election Commission to enforce the law and collect/publish info on campaign contributions/spending ii. Buckley v. Valeo (1976), Supreme Court upheld reporting requirements/contribution limits but rejected spending limits because they limited free speech (1 amendment) iii. Liberalized by congress in 1979 to allow unrestricted contributions/spending for state/local party-building and get-out- the-vote activities f. Soft money: money used by political parties for voter registration, public education, and voter mobilization. Until 2002, when congress passed legislation outlawing soft money, the gov had imposed no limit on contributions or expenditures for such purposes i. “hard money” was spend under FECA limitations ii. Banned by Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act 5. The Flow of Campaign Money a. Outpaces inflation—has grown b. Supply & demand have driven campaign spending up c. Grows because stakes represented by elections are so great d. Incentives to influence who gets elected and what they do in office e. Candidates appetite for campaign funds rows because cost of spreading message to voters increases f. In congress, choices made by contributors, candidates, parties, and independent committee entrepreneurs affect budget a lot g. Congressional candidate contributions come from: individuals, political action committees (PACs), their personal funds, and party orgs h. Coordinated campaign spending: spending by the democratic & republican party committees on behalf of individual congressional candidates i. Independent campaign spending: campaign spending—by a person or org for or against a political candidate—that isn’t controlled by or coordinated with any candidate’s campaign j. Congressional parties help candidates by encouraging incumbents in safe seats to pass some of the money on to needier candidates k. Although House and Senate elections are mostly candidate centered in activities/messages, national parties have a bigger role in financing them than when FECA was adopted l. All types of contributors/independent spenders, with exception of candidates themselves, distribute funds strategically i. Don’t waste resources on hopeless candidates ii. Want to make a difference m.Congressional incumbents have least trouble raising funds n. How much candidates are able to raise and spend matters to the degree that a lack of money prevents candidates from getting message out to voters i. Little effect on general election results for pres. 1. Money is spent by party orgs and ind. Committees on their behalf o. What matters is how voters respond to competing campaign messages p. Campaign money matters more in presidential primaries because voters have to know more about the candidates than their party i. Lesser known candidates have to raise more money q. In house and senate races lack of money is usually decisive i. Voters reject candidates they know nothing about ii. But campaign spending has little effect on incumbents because voters already know them r. For incumbents, spending more is actually a sign of weakness: scared they won’t get reelected i. For challengers, more spending shows electoral strength ii. Don’t have to outspend incumbent to win, just have to spend enough to be known 6. How Are Campaign Funds Spent? a. If candidate has weak opponent might give it to another candidate (ex: in congress) who needs it b. Largest expense is advertising i. Tv/radio most expensive c. Senate uses broadcast more d. House uses “persuasion mail” more to reach districts e. Efficiency f. Small proportion goes towards traditional campaigning: speeches, rallies, soliciting votes door to door, shaking hands i. But still important g. “earned media”—gimmicks h. Running paid ads to provoke controversy & gain news coverage i. Modern pres. campaigns: basically made for tv j. Exploit soft news & entertainment shows i. Talk and comedy shows: Oprah, Larry King, SNL k. Media coverage: rich get richer and poor get ignored i. Best-funded campaigns get most attention from news media ii. Poorly funded candidates may be desperate for news coverage cause they can’t afford airtime but the fact that they are poor makes them look like losers and not worth covering anyway iii. If a campaign depends on news coverage to get message out, it will fail l. Lots of money also goes to staff salaries, offices, equipment, travel, website, etc. m.Fundraising is also a big expense 7. Where Are Presidential Campaign Funds Spent? a. Tv advertising invested heavily by pres. candidates b. Electoral college focuses on states with large number of electoral votes that are not securely in one party’s camp rather than on the national electorate c. Whoever wins the most popular votes in a state except for Maine and Nebraska gets all of its electoral votes no matter how narrow the margin of victory i. Object of pres. campaign is to get at least 270 electoral votes d. When election is expected to be close, strategy is to focus on swing states/battle ground states i. States not on the battleground lists are often ignored iv. Money and Elections: Policy Issues 1. Elections are supposed to keep agents responsive by making them compete with other would-be agents for the votes needed to win and hold their jobs 2. Serious electoral competition is expensive 3. Gather large amount of money from people and groups whose values and interest may differ from those of voters a. Suspicion that candidates are more responsive to financial supporters than voters, undermining purpose of elections and eventually democracy 4. Access: the ability of privileged outsiders, such as interest group representatives, to obtain a hearing from elected officials or bureaucrats 5. News media and self-proclaimed public interest lobbies have convinced most Americans that campaign donations buy specific policy favors 6. It is impossible for most candidates to raise enough money in small donations to conduct a competitive campaign 7. The ultimate barrier to stmore egalitarian campaign finance system is the 1 amendment as currently interpreted by the Supreme Court a. Even if campaigns were fully funded by tax dollars & private contributions to candidates prohibited, people & orgs would remain free to spend all the money they could gather on independent campaigns supporting or attacking candidates 8. Fundamental changes to the campaign finance system are unlikely because there is no consensus on what would count as an improvement or how to achieve it a. Large effort b. But it remains remarkably pluralistic: not necessarily a bad thing c. Voters still have the last word e. The Logic of Elections Revisited i. Despite all the problems w/ US elections, they work remarkably well to preserve American democracy ii. Regular, free, competitive elections guard the nation against the dangers that arise when citizens delegate authority to govs iii. Elections allow citizens, as principals, to pick their agents and fire/replace those performing badly iv. Threat of replacement provides elected officials w/ incentive to listen to constituents v. Elections also create incentives for entrepreneurs and orgs to solve free-rider & coordination problems that beset citizens acting as collective principals
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