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PS 51A Elections Lecture 5-14-2010

PS 51A Elections Lecture 5-14-2010 - PS 51A Elections...

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PS 51A Elections Lecture 5-14-2010 Elections Why are elections important? Simplest, most accessible way for citizens to influence policy making Diverse interests can be expressed equally and comprehensively Schumpeter: Public doesn’t directly make policies, just choose among competing elites to do so Parties caught between maximizing votes and satisfying activists? Every vote has equal weight. Doesn’t mater if you are literate, illiterate, rich, poor – it all equals the same Schumpeter’s idea about democracy is that its about elites ruling. Parties usually have a core constituency. No matter what happens, these core supporters will still support them. Why is there such a conflict? Parties need to be somewhat moderate because people are polarized. However, for the most parties, the core supporters tend to have more stubborn views. Ideologically purist, might be seen as radical or extremist by the public. Should the party stick to its core supporters or appeal to wide public? These core supporters will probably not defect or go to another party. They may stay home. Some parties rely on core supporters. If you alienate core supporters, they stop giving you money. Elections- Turnout Is high turnout always good? If voter turnout drops, the media criticizes Once democracy stabilizes, maximizing electoral participation could be dangerous, because high turnout indicates societal conflicts (Lipset). High turnout is good because the act of voting binds citizens to the political systems and legitimizes the democratic process (Dalton) High turnout could mean that the people like the regime. If everyone is happy with what is going on, why turnout? Unless you feel strongly about something, why would you bother to go to the polls? Almond and Verba – in their ideological society, having 100% participation is not a good thing… an idealized society should have a mix of subjects and participants, don’t want everyone to be a participant (too many opinions, arguments and no decisions will be made).
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Constitutions are designed to maximize turnouts because its generally viewed as a good thing Elections – Turnout Why do people decide to (not) turn out? Downs’ calculus of voting: R = p*B-C R = probability of turning out to vote P = probability of you vote deciding the outcome B = benefit if preferred party wins C = cost of voting Riker and Ordeshook: R = p*B-C+D D = psychological benefit Psychological benefit… when you get out of a polling booth you get a sticker saying “I voted”… you feel good about voting. You feel that you have fulfilled your civic duty. Or you feel good because you showed your support for a particular party or a particular candidate. Could be tangible or intangible benefits behind elections and turnouts Ex: you don’t have any ties with gulf of mexico, so you don’t care about the oil spill… you might be an environmentalist or in favor or against off-shore drilling.
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PS 51A Elections Lecture 5-14-2010 - PS 51A Elections...

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