What demographic variables are the strongest indicators for whether or not a person will vote quizlet?

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Terms in this set (105)

What was the voter turnout like in the 2008 election?

Disappointing given the expectations of Obama's campaign.

131 million americans, 64% of registered voters actually voted

What was significant about the composition of the voting body in the 2008 election?

8% more African Americans voted than ever before. Total voting rates for ethnic minorities increased by 4%

What is political participation?

any kind of action aimed at changing or supporting gov't policy or officials

Where does disagreement over political participation stem from?

how much and what kind of participation is necessary

What are 2 opinions on the definition of a democratic gov't?

1. only democratic if all citizens are directly involved in policymaking.
(Ex: Athenian society. Excluded females and slaves. All adult males voted on public policy in assemblies and councils)

2. gov't can be democratic if ppl participate indirectly by electing representatives who act on their behalf.
(Ex: Ancient Roman republic based on system of separated power w/checks and balances. Had constitution, senate, courts, assemblies, and a bureaucracy. Also had prominent aristocracy that controlled most political matters)

Conventional participation

Culturally acceptable political activity that communicates preferences through established institutions

conventional participation in contemporary American society?

1. All citizens 18+ can vote
2. contacting elected officials
3. election campaigns
4. associating w/political parties or interest groups
5. signing petitions

Unconventional participation

political activity that takes place outside of established institutions and challenges cultural norms

Unconventional participation in contemporary american society

1. demonstrations
2. protests
3. strikes
4. boycotts
5. sit-ins
6. terrorist activities aimed at sending political messages

What is a sit-in?

non-violent form of protest in which an individual or group occupies a public or private area

How did African Americans utilize unconventional participation after being denied access to conventional forms?

1. sit-ins in public and private places
2. long distance marches involving hundreds of ppl
3. interstate freedom rides using public transportation

What did African American unconventional participation challenge?

1. established institutions that denied blacks voting rights
2. cultural norms of accepted bhavior

What is an example of violent repression in response to peaceful unconventional participation?

Bloody Sunday. On March 7, 1965, 600 civil rights activists tried to peacefully march from Selma to Montgomery. Governor George Wallace declared the march illegal and dispatched state troopers to stop it by force. They attacked marchers with tear gas and night sticks.

How are demonstrations viewed in today's society?

less conventional form of participation. 1/4 of Americans say they would never attend one.

How are boycotts and sit-ins viewed in today's society?

very unconventional. Most Americans say they would never engage in either.

What is one of the most conventionally accepted forms of participation in today's society?

signing petitions. 97% of Americans say it is something they have done or would do.

Who uses unconventional participation?

1. marginalized groups denied access to conventional forms.

2. groups seeking to attract awareness to their cause

What is Greenpeace?

an environmental advocacy organization. Protests practice of whaling by deploying ships that attempt to interfere with the whale hunt.

This has drawn international attention to whaling and contributed to a decrease in the practice

What is a potential danger of unconventional participation?

it can threaten stability in a democratic system

How did the gov't respond to unconventional actions of civil rights activists in the 50s and 60s?

civil rights laws that extended equal protection to some minority groups.

What inspired the 26th Amendment of 1971, lowering the voting age?

students who protested Vietnam War by disrupting college campuses. Gov't tried to redirect the political energy of youth towards voting.

What are some examples unsuccessful unconventional participation?

1. anti-abortion protests have not yet resulted in policies that ban abortions.

2. antiwar protesters demonstrated against U.S. war in Iraq in 2003, but combat mission didn't end until 2010.

What political system comes closest to that of a true democracy?

Ancient Greece

Why does the degree to which Americans participate politically vary widely?

some activities require more resources and interest than others

What kinds of participation do the fewest Americans engage in?

any that require a lot of time, money, interest, knowledge, or professional skills.

In 2004, what forms of political participation did the fewest Americans take part in?

working for a party or candidate (3%)

In 2004, what form of political participation did the greatest number of americans take part in?

voting in the presidential election (55%)

What is socioeconomic status?

the combination of education, occupation, and income that can be used to gauge one's position in society

What is a good indicator of who is most likely to engage in conventional political participation?

socioeconomic status.

Ppl w/more education, income, and white collar jobs are more likely to participate politically.

Three primary reasons ppl do not participate politically according to political scientists, Sidney Verba, Kay Schlozman, and Henry Brady?

1. cannot participate b/c lack the necessary resources

2. do not want to participate b/c lack interest in politics

3. nobody has asked them to participate (they have not been motivated)

What 3 things make someone more likely to participate politically?

If they:
1. have the necessary resources

2. are psychologically engaged in politics

3. are asked or motivated by someone else to get involved

3 resources necessary for political participation?

1. time
2. money
3. civic skills

How does one become psychologically engaged in politics?

1. personal interest in an issue
2. parents who are politically engaged
3. direct connection to an issue

Who recruits (or motivates) ppl for political participation?

1. party activists
2. interest-group advocates,
3. friends
4. family
5. coworkers

What percentage of Americans typically talk to others about their choice of candidates in upcoming elections?


What percentage of Americans would wear a campaign button or put a bumper sticker on their car?


What is the most important measure of socioeconomic status for predicting participation in conventional political activities?


What do political scientists Verba, Schlozman, and Brady say about the connection between education and political participation?

"[Education] affects the acquisition of skills; it channels opportunities for high levels of income and occupation; it places individuals in institutional settings where they can be recruited to political activity; and it fosters psychological and cognitive engagement with politics."

In 2008, what educational group made up the largest number of voters?

College graduates (84% registered, 80% voted)

In 2008, what educated group made up the smallest number of voters?

Some high school (40%)

In 2008, what income group made up the largest number of voters?

$150,000+ (82%)

In 2008, what income group made up the smallest number of voters?

less than $10,000 (49%)

What is the most useful demographic indicator of political participation?

Age. Young ppl more likely to engage in unconventional participation, but less likely to engage in conventional forms like voting.

In 2008, what age group made up the greatest number of voters?

75+ (68%)

In 2008, what age group made up the least number of voters?

18-24 (49%)

In 2008, what gender made up the majority of voters?

female (66%)

In 2008, what gender made up the minority of voters?

male (62%)

In 2008, what race and ethnicity made up the greatest number of voters?

white (66%)

In 2008, what race and ethnicity made up the smallest number of voters?

asian (48%)

What consideration tends to diminish differences in voter turnout due to race?

socioeconomic factors

3 most influential factors in a citizen's vote

1. partisan loyalty
2. policy issues
3. candidate characteristics

How does party identification function as a shortcut in voting?

Those with a sense of party identification can vote w/o undergoing the rigors of obtaining thorough knowledge of the candidates and policies they espouse

What sorts of crises cause voters to reexamine their party positions or rethink a potential vote?

introduction of new issue topics like reproductive rights and science.

Why did George Bush win almost 2/3 of the Latino vote in 2004?

Catholic Latin Americans disagreed with the liberal stance on reproduction and abortion rights supported by the Democratic majority of Catholics. This caused them to vote Republican.

what is an independent?

someone who refuses to claim affiliation with either the Democratic or Republican parties.

What can influence the party identifications held by Americans?

1. parents
2. schools
3. places of worship

What has happened to partisanship over the last 60 years?

It has declined In 2010, 16% of Americans identified themselves as pure independents

What makes it difficult for voters to choose between candidate policy platforms?

1. if campaigns are ambiguous on issues

2. when candidates agree on general policy goals

3. detailed descriptions of policy goals that unveil the complexities and leave voters confused

How did Democratic candidate John Kerry confuse voters in 2004?

Although he claimed the war in Iraq was unethical, poorly managed, and almost unwinnable, he advocated for an American presence in the foreign nation. This left voters unsure of his policy intentions and stance on the war.

prospective voting

voter behavior that evaluates candidates based on forecasts of their future political behavior

retrospective voting

voter behavior that evaluates candidates based on their experience or past performance

What determines whether voters think retrospectively or prospectively?

candidate's relationship to the contested seat.

1. someone who has held office during prosperous times will likely emphasize their past record, appealing to retrospective voter tendencies

2. someone who has held office during tumultuous times will likely appeal to prospective voter tendencies

What predominant candidate characteristics do voters consider?

1. race
2. ethnicity
3. religion
4. gender
5. background

Voters are drawn to candidates who share their own demographic profile

what is balancing the ticket

the practice of presidential nominees selecting a running mate who broadens the public appeal of the campaign

Why did John McCain choose Sarah Palin as his running mate in the 2008 election?

to balance the ticket and strategically appeal to a different group of American voters.

McCain's opponents saw him as elderly, and out of touch w/mainstream America, while they saw Palin as a young "Washington outsider" and in touch w/the American heartland

Candidate character traits that influence voters:

1. trustworthiness
2. intellect
3. prior service to country
4. oratory skill
5. ability to empathize
6. overall projection of power and strength

What presidents appealed to voters through speechmaking and leadership qualities?

1. John F. Kennedy
2. Ronald Reagan
3. Bill Clinton
4. Barack Obama

What presidents appealed to voters through moral fortitude and ability to relate to the average American?

1. Jimmy Carter
2. George Bush

How do people tend to vote with their wallets?

If voters are satisfied w/their financial situation, the incumbent candidate will likely have their support. BUT if economy is faltering and voters feel insecure, incumbent candidate may lose their support

How did H.W. Bush's presidency demonstrate the dynamic of ppl voting with their wallets?

Held 90% favorability rating in national polls after Gulf War in '91 and Cold war. However, conclusion of these wars brought military retraction and economic recession. This swayed voters to vote for Bill Clinton instead of reelecting Bush

What was a major factor contributing to John McCain's defeat in the 2008 presidential election?

Housing market collapse and escalating financial crises left Republicans at a disadvantage following the Bush administration. McCain was unable to shift voter confidence back to himself.

What is one of the best indicators of presidential election outcomes?

Consumer Confidence Index (CCI). Based on surveys that ask voters about their prospective view of the economy. 100 = confidence in economy. under 100 means low confidence.

Who calculates the CCI?

the business research group Conference Board

voter turnout

a statistic representing the number of voters who cast a ballot in a given election.

Two major trends in voter turnout

1. voter turnout has generally declined since 1960s

2. voter turnout in U.S. remains lower than in other industrialized countries

What does the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance say about voter turnout?

"Voter turnout has decreased globally over the past 10 years by almost 10 percent, both in established democracies as well as newly-democratized developing countries"

How might the growing mobility of the American electorate negatively affect voter turnout?

modern advances in transportation and communications encourages americans to move. This requires that a voter change residence. This means they must adapt to a new community and new political context. It takes time to learn about the issues that impact a community and to identify the political actors who play a role in local gov't affairs.

social capital

According to political scientist Robert Putnam, it is the degree of civic connectedness within a political community or state

How does the loss of social capital negatively affect voter turnout?

With the advent of electronics and the internet, people no longer connect socially nearly as much as they used to. Rather they spend their leisure at home, by themselves. This decreases political awareness and therefore participation in the U.S.

How does the way in which new media is used by campaigns to reach voters negatively affect voter turnout?

As t.v. and internet advertising have become dominant forms of political communication, there is now little to no emphasis on door-to-door campaigning. Personal appearances by candidates to shake hands w/voters has declined. W/o these personal touches, voters lose their sense of connection to politics and choose not to participate in elections

What is a suspect factor in increasing voter cynicism towards the electoral process and/or voting?

candidates' use of attack ads.

How might demographic differences in political participation negatively affect voter turnout?

1. younger generations don't possess the same sense of civic responsibility as older generations

2. most politicians don't relate to younger Americans. As long as the national agenda continues to be dominated by issues like Social Security and health care, young adults will find little motivation to participate.

How might generational effects negatively affect voter turnout?

events like the Vietnam War to the Watergate scandal likely engendered a lot of distrust in government for those growing up in that era.

It is possible that as younger generations replace these disaffected voters, we might see a rise in voter turnout

What tactics do other countries employ to get more voters that the U.S. does not?

holding election day on a weekend or declaring it a holiday so more people can participate. Or elections take place over more than one day.

In the U.S., election day is always on a Tuesday.

How have state and local gov'ts in the U.S. responded to concerns about the time constraints imposed on voters?

offering absentee voting and convenience voting.

What is absentee voting?

permits a voter to request and return a ballot through mail.

What is convenience voting?

allows voters to cast a ballot at various locations throughout their community during the weeks prior to election

voter registration processes in other countries vs. in the U.S.?

1. In many countries, anyone who meets the voting eligibility requirements is ready to vote w/o formal registration.

2. In the U.S. a voter must obtain, complete, and submit a voter registration form before voting.

National Voter Registration Acrt of 1993

Also known as the Motor Voter Act. Required state gov'ts to allow eligible voters to register when applying for a driver's license or social services.

Aimed at reducing burdens associated w/re-registering to vote each time someone moves

What 3 things does the electoral system of a country affect?

1. frequency of elections
2. length of election ballots
3. likelihood a voter will cast a winning vote

Difference between U.S. electoral system and other countries?

1. In the U.S., voters are expected to vote more often b/c more elections. Also, they must consider ppl for multiple positions so ballots are longer. U.S. ballots require more time, knowledge and interest.

2. In other countries like Great Britain, there are far fewer elections and choices on each ballot

voter fatigue

a phenomenon that occurs when voters lose interest in politics as a result of being asked to vote too frequently and on too many different issues

midterm elections

Federal elections occurring between presidential election years

What percentage of the voting public participates in presidential elections?


What percentage of the voting public participates in midterm elections?


What causes the 15% difference between voter participation in presidential and congressional elections?

added national publicity and interest surrounding presidential elections.

How does the U.S.'s electoral system affect the likelihood that a voter will cast a winning ballot? How does this affect voter turnout?

Single-member congressional districts and plurality election rule allow only one person to represent each district, and allows them to be elected without a majority vote.

Therefore people are reluctant to waste their votes on a minor candidate w/little chance of winning. Depresses voter turnout

How do unique laws affect voter turnout in other countries vs. in the U.S.?

1. some countries require mandatory voting

2. U.S. does not have mandatory voting.

What do advocates of mandatory voting say?

1. requiring everyone would participate would lead to a more representative outcome.

2. voting is a civic duty and voters should be held responsible for a lack of civic engagement

What do opponents of mandatory voting say?

elections should only be decided by those who care enough to be informed and participate in the process.

If the ppl who care happen to be better educated, have higher income, or belong to a particular ethnicity, they should receive special attention from the gov't

how might the results of an election be skewed if the politically apathetic were forced to vote?

Their votes would be weighted as heavily as those who do care about politics. Therefore randomly selected or meaningless votes would be worth as much as an educated, well thought out vote.

Advantages of mandatory voting

1. election outcome more representative

2. gov't can claim greater legitimacy b/c more of the population participated in its selection

3. voting is a civic duty critical to the functioning of a healthy democratic society

4. encourages citizens to stay politically aware of gov't activity and encourages political accountability

Disadvantages of mandatory voting

1. elections should be decided by those who care and are knowledgeable about politics regardless of wealth or status

2. It is a stronger measure of legitimacy of a government system if people do not feel the need to participate in elections. Apathy may be the result of satisfaction rather than alienation.

3. certain religions discourage participation in politics. Fining citizens who choose not to exercise voting rights is oppressive

4. Some citizens may have no knowledge of or interest in politics and may have no preference among political candidates. Their participation in election may skew the results.

What main factors have contributed to the decline in voter turnout?

1. growing mobility of the population
2. loss of social capital
3. technological developments
4. changes in population eligible to vote
5. growing levels of distrust in gov't in younger generations

What country has had the highest voter turnout in the last 50 years?


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What is the best indicator of how an individual will vote quizlet?

Political party identification is the number one predictor of how someone will vote. Demographics are also a good indicator of how they will vote (age, race, etc). A voters' parents political affiliation is a large indicator what party they will vote for in an election.

What are the strongest predictors of whether people will vote in elections quizlet?

Besides education, income is one of the best predictors of whether an American will vote. Typically in recent presidential election years, U.S. citizens with the lowest income level have had voter turnout levels of 50-60 percent, whereas those with the highest income level have had turnout levels above 85 percent.

What factors determine whether people turn out to vote?

Age, income, and educational attainment are significant factors affecting voter turnout. Educational attainment is perhaps the best predictor of voter turnout, and in the 2008 election, those holding advanced degrees were three times more likely to vote than those with less than high school education.

What factors determine whether people turn out to vote in US elections quizlet?

What factors determine whether people turn out to vote in U.S. elections? interest in certain issues that a candidate supports or opposes, time, citzenship status, In what ways do primary elections contribute to the rise of partisanship in U.S. politics?