Exam 3 Lecture Notes

Exam 3 Lecture Notes - Wednesday,March18,2009 I. II. III....

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009 I. Introduction a. Use elections to decide who is running the government b. 2006 and 2008 elections i. Lots of offices up for election 1. Federal, State, and Local ii. Partisan and non-partisan 1. County Coroner II. The Logic of Elections a. American democracy is a representative democracy b. Sheer size of the new nation made direct democracy impossible c. Collective Action Problems i. Free riding and coordination problems ii. Elections create incentives for organizations to provide information and to mobilize voters iii. Principal agent problem – citizens can pick their agents and fire those whose performances fall short d. One solution adopted by representative democracies is to hold regular, free, competitive elections e. Elections work to ameliorate this problem: i. Give ordinary citizens a say in who represents them ii. Prospect of future elections give officeholders who want to keep or improve their jobs a motive to be responsive agents iii. 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 III. How do voters decide? a. Acquiring information that would decrease uncertainty can require a great deal of effort b. Most voters economize by using simple cues as cognitive shortcuts i. Relying heavily, if selectively, on the free information delivered by the news media, campaign advertising, and their own experience to inform their predictions c. One way to predict is to assess the past performance of the incumbent candidate or the majority party i. Retrospective Voting d. Another strategy for predicting which candidate will be the most satisfactory agent is to compare the future policy options they represent
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i. Prospective Voting ii. Single Issues e. Voters also make predictions based on the candidates’ personal characteristics i. Competence, experience, honesty, knowledge, leadership skills f. However, the most important information shortcut voters use to make predictions is party label i. Party identification is the best single predictor of the vote in federal elections IV. Election Campaigns a. Experienced campaigns are fully aware of voters’ reliance on free information and cognitive shortcuts, and they devise strategies for winning votes accordingly b. Campaigns are intensely pragmatic, opportunistic affairs, highly variable because they must adapt to circumstances that are highly variable c. There are a number of common features found throughout competitive campaigns V. The Basic Necessities: Candidates and Messages a. The basic necessities are a candidate, a message, and a way to inform voters about both b. Candidate is a person who can be portrayed as sufficiently qualified and trustworthy for the job c. Difficult position to achieve, and many are loathe to compete unless they have very good chances of success VI. Getting Out the Message a. Research is critical to deriving information about the
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Exam 3 Lecture Notes - Wednesday,March18,2009 I. II. III....

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