pols 6 - Voting campaigns and elections I We use elections...

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Voting, campaigns, and elections 1. We use elections to decide who runs the government 2. 2006 election 3. Lots of offices up for election 1. Federal, state, and local 4. Partisan and non-partisan 5. The logic of elections 1. American democracy is representative democracy 2. The sheer size of the new nation made direct democracy impossible 3. But how could an indirect democracy (through representatives) preempt the problem of keeping the needs of the people ahead of the desires and ambitions of the representatives 4. One effective, if imperfect, solution adopted by representative democracies is to hold regular, free, competitive elections 5. Elections work to ameliorate this problem: 1. They give ordinary citizens a say in who represents them 2. The prospect of future elections gives officeholders who want to keep or improve their jobs a motive to be responsive agents 3. Elections provide powerful incentives for the small set of citizens who want to replace the current officeholders to keep a close eye on representatives and to provide critical evaluations of them to the public at large 6. How do voters decide? 1. Acquiring information that would decrease uncertainty can require a great deal of effort 1. Quick – what are Kathy Cox’s views on school vouchers? 1. For them: Republican 2. Most voters economize by using simple cues as cognitive shortcuts and by relying heavily, if selectively, on the free information delivered by the news media, campaign advertising, and their own experience to inform their predictions 1. Quick – are republicans for or against school vouchers? 3. One way to predict is to assess the past performance of the incumbent candidate or the majority party 4. Generally, if incumbents have done well, they are likely to continue to receive support, particularly if the national economy is strong 5. Over 90% of the House members are reelected 6.
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