ARTICLE ANALYSIS OF THE VOTING BEHAVIOR IN AMERICA 5
ArticleAnalysis of the Voting Behavior in America
ArticleAnalysis of the Voting Behavior in America
Votingis a political process that is influenced by many factors, both onthe voters’ side and the candidates’ side. However, the behaviorof the voters and their voting patterns is determined by uniquefactors. These factors make Americans a unique voting population. Thecentral theme of the readings is the multi-factor determination ofthe voting behavior of the American population. According to theauthors, the American voters are influenced by many factors that havedifferent extents of importance in relation to political andsocioeconomic circumstances in the country. Particularly, the authorsexplore the decision making process and the issues in the Americancircumstances that influence their voting patterns. The discussion onthe readings will explore the ideologies and models presented by theauthors in regard to the factors influencing voters’ behavior andthe voting patterns in America.
Theauthors present similar sentiments in regard to the determinants ofthe voting patterns and decision making by American voters. BernardBerelson presents a political view known as the Berelson’s paradoxof democracy which assumes that voters are committed to publicinterests when making voting decisions.While the assertion by a person does not align with the popular,pragmatic political practices, it concurs with the argument byCampbell,Converse, Miller and Stokes.According to Campbell et al (1960), independent voters are leastinvolved in popular politics, but make voting decisions based on theissues of public interest. However, Campbell et al (1960) holds thatmajority of voters may not follow the rational way of voting asproposed by the Brerelson’s paradox.
Votersare influenced by the campaigns and the way they are carried by thecandidates. This is because the voting patterns of voters aredetermined by the extent of the campaigns and the period of timespent on the campaign trail. According to Lewis-Back et al (2011), astudy during the 2000 elections showed that voters changed theircandidate support at different times of the campaign period. Thechanges in the voting preferences were influenced by the events thatmarked the entire campaign period. Lewis-Back et al (2011) confirmsthat as the campaign period progressed, supports of Bush supported AlGore after the political conventions, while those of Democratschanged to the Republicans after the presidential debates.
However,in their exploration of the importance of campaigns, Hillygus andJackman (2003) noted that the campaign activities did not necessarilyinfluence the voters. Hillygus and Jackman (2003) assert that it isthe underlying issues that related to the campaign events thatinfluence the preferences of voters. According to their study,Hillygus and Jackman (2003) noted that partisan activation, campaigneffects and the legacy of Bill Clinton determined the extent ofinfluence campaign events had on the voting patterns and voterdecision making. The identification of the issues behind thepolitical process of year 2000 concurs with the by the person aboutvoters and concern for public interests.
However,the authors of the readings explore different models that relate tovoting patterns, voting behavior and voter decision making. Hillygusand Jackman (2003) explore an estimation model to predict the changesthat take place in the voter preferences during the campaigns. Thetransition model indicates that voters change their preferencebetween candidates and party affiliations as the campaigns target toinfluence them. On the other hand, Campbell,Converse, Miller and Stokes explore theMichigan model. The model asserts that most of the voters have theirpreferences influenced by their partisan identification between theparties (Campbellet al, 1960).The Michigan model also asserts that only the independent voters arenot influenced by the bipartisan structure of the American electoralsystem.
Onthe other hand, Berelson explores the behavioral pattern that came tobe known as the Berelson`sparadox.While the Michigan model explores the different voting patternsbetween the majority voters and few independent voters, the idea ofthe Berelson`sparadox presents a different case.According to Berelson (1954), voters are committed to issues thatrelate to the public interest and not the campaign events. However,the two observations differ with Hillygus and Jackman (2003) whofound out that voter decisions are significantly influenced bycampaign activities. This observation is vindicated by the criticismthat is laid upon the Michigan model an assertion that does not fitthe American population. It would be worthy to critique the Michiganmodel and Berelson’s Paradox as having laid too much expectation ofthe Americans. They expected the Americans to be influenced by issuesonly and not campaigns.
Whilethere are different factors that influence voting patterns and voterpreferences, the significance of each factor is associated with theimportance that voters place on each factor. The four readingsexplore the voting behavior of American voters in a bid to understandthe determinants of voting decisions and preferences. While Hillygusand Jackman (2003) concur with Lewis-Beck about the significance ofcampaign events in the voting decision of the American voters, Campelet al and Berelson introduce models and ideology that explains howthe issues of public interest influences voter preferences.
Berelson,B., Lazarsfeld, P. F., & McPhee, W. N. Voting:A Study of Opinion Formation in a Presidential Campaign.Chicago: University of Chicago PressCampbell,A., Converse, P., Miller, W., Stokes,D. (1960). TheAmerican Voter. Chicago:University Of Chicago Press
Hillygus,S., & Jackman, S. (2003). VoterDecision Making in Election 2000: CampaignEffects,Partisan Activation, and the Clinton Legacy. AmericanJournal of Political Science,Vol. 47, No. 4 (Oct., 2003), pp. 583-596
Lewis-Beck,M.S., & Jacoby, W.G., Norpoth, H., & Weisberg, H.F. (2011).TheAmerican Voter Revisited.Chicago:University Of Chicago Press