What constitutes the many
“idiots” in our midst?
Size of the Problem
2000 Election-205.8 million citizens of
voting age. Only 105.4 actually voted.
Also, 99 million votes were cast for 435
seats in the House of Representatives.
There are even lower rates of turnout in
“off-year elections” or the congressional
elections held in the even-numbered years
in between presidential elections.
“Nonvoting Voters” – millions who vote during
presidential elections, but not for congressional
candidates in off-year elections.
Very common in state and local elections.
The farther down the ballot an office is, the
fewer the number of votes will be cast.
“Ballot fatigue”-voters exhaust their patience or
knowledge as they work their way down the
-More people vote during general elections than
primary or special elections.
Why don’t people vote?
- 10 million resident aliens
- 5-6 million ill or physically disabled
- 2-3 million traveling unexpectedly
- 500,000 in mental institutions
- 2 million in jail
-100,000 do not vote for religious reasons
(Voting amounts to idolatry)
-80 million who could vote, did not
-Deliberately choose not to go
-Voter efficacy: convinced that their vote will
not make a difference
-”Whoever wins will be fine with me” mentality
-Distrust politics/politicians/special interest
Factors Affecting Turn-out
Cumbersome election procedures: Inconvenient
registration requirements, long ballots and lines.
“Time zone fallout”: Eastern and Central polls
close in the Mountain and Pacific time zones and
early returns in the media attempt to project a
winner, thus discouraging Western voters from
casting their ballots.
Lack of interest/apathy
Jury Duty Affect
- Younger than age 35
- Southern/rural areas
- low sense of voter efficacy (Regardless of
class, race and education).
Comparing Voters and Nonvoters
-high levels of income
-well integrated in the community
-strong sense of party identification
-believe voting is an important act-voter efficacy
(This transcends all other factors)
-AARP crowd and women
-in areas where laws, customs and competition
between the parties promote turnout
Factors that influence voters
-Democrats (Lower income brackets,
-Republicans (Higher income brackets,
professional and business people)
-Republicans- more college graduates
-Democrats- more high school graduates
Yet more high school graduates vote
Republican than those who have only
gone through grade school
Gender Gap (Partisan choices)
-Women tend to favor Democrats
-men favor Republicans
Men and women vote differently on issues
such as: abortion, health care, social
welfare matters, and military involvement.
Younger voters tend to be Democrats
or gravitate towards third parties.
Religion, Ethnic Background
-North: Protestants GOP
(Historical precedent-immigration patterns)
-Nonwhites support Democratic party:
African Americans are the second most important racial minority
in the country (New Deal)
Latinos: Cuban Americans GOP
Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans Democratic
Party Identification: Loyalty is the single most
significant predictor of voter turn-out.
- Straight-ticket voting
- Split-ticket voting (Waning influence of
of party loyalty)
- Independents-used to be less well-
informed. “New” independents now
prefer not to join either major party. They
are often young, above average education,
income and job status
Short Term affect of Candidates/Issues
- Cause them to switch sides or a split
-Impression a candidate makes (Personality,
character, style, appearance, past record,
-Issues have become increasingly important
over the last 40 years (Watergate, Vietnam War,