The American Voter Revisited
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Michigan Press
When I was first informed that a quartet of political scientists was laying out plans for a detailed replication of our 1960 volume entitled The American Voter, I was willing to lend a blessing to the enterprise not only on my own behalf, but for my three coauthors, now departed. I was willing to do so chiefly because of the...
The American Voter, by Angus Campbell, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes, was published in 1960 as a report on the 1952 and especially the 1956 U.S. presidential elections. Researchers at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research had published an earlier book on the 1952 election, a report on the 1954 congressional election, and a few...
How to Read This Book
Most books in political science can be read in linear fashion, the chapters in their given sequence developing the theme announced by the title. The American Voter Revisited can certainly be read that way, but it goes better with a twist. The twist involves knowing the context. Each chapter parallels a chapter from the original The American Voter, published in 1960...
SECTION I: Introduction
CHAPTER 1: Setting
Voting has become a virtually universal means by which individuals make collective decisions. It is used by legislatures and reading groups, by panels of judges, church conclaves, and the United Nations, and, most importantly, it has become the way that nations represent their mass public in determining governmental actions. The importance of voting...
CHAPTER 2: Theoretical Orientation
Several theoretical approaches can be used to study voting behavior. There are distinct sociological and psychological approaches, which have followed separate paths in the investigation of voting. Their findings are not contradictory, but the two approaches have not addressed one another. Each has advantages, so that a combination of the two is...
SECTION II: Political Attitudes and the Vote
CHAPTER 3: Perceptions of the Parties and Candidates
Voters cast their ballots in secret but not in the dark. To understand a voter's choice, we must come to grips with the way a voter sees the elements that enter into the decision. Foremost among them are the candidates on the ballot, the parties they represent, and the issues on which the parties and candidates may take different positions. Like...
CHAPTER 4: Partisan Choice
The attitudes and reactions that constitute public perceptions of the parties and candidates are important because of their effect on elections and voting. These attitudes affect the public's choice in presidential elections. The images of parties and their candidates fluctuate with daily news events, but the images prevalent on Election Day will inevitably affect the electoral outcome...
CHAPTER 5: Voting Turnout
When citizens cast a vote in an election they do a lot more than ponder the pros and cons of the rival candidates. They must also resolve that the election is important enough to travel to the polling station or send in their ballot by mail. Preference for a particular candidate can matter only if it is expressed on a ballot, and the decision by some citizens to stay home on Election Day may matter as much for the outcome of an...
SECTION III: The Political Context
CHAPTER 6: The Impact of Party Identification
Voting can be seen at one level as due to psychological factors. People's attitudes toward the several elements of political conflict comprise a "field of forces" that helps determine their behavior. As seen in chapter 5, the intensity of these attitudes to a good measure explain voting turnout. Similarly, the consistency of these attitudes helps explain why some people cast straight-ticket votes and others split their votes between the...
CHAPTER 7: The Development of Party Identification
Political parties, like sports teams, evoke strong loyalty and affection in the general public, but also animosity, rejection, or indifference. Most Americans, as the previous chapter showed, feel attached to either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party in a way that shapes their political attitudes, perceptions, and choices. With party...
CHAPTER 8: Public Policy and Political Preference
It is a basic principle of democratic theory that citizens influence public policy within their political system. Even as citizen preferences shape policies in a democratic system, those policies are likely to affect the thoughts and actions of the very same citizens. As a result of these complementary processes, substantive...
CHAPTER 9: Attitude Structure and the Problem of Ideology
As we have just seen, only a fraction of the general public shows the potential to cast a vote on the basis of a given issue. At the same time, there is disagreement within the electorate regarding the issue stands of the major parties’ presidential candidates. Based upon findings like these, it is natural to question the degree...
CHAPTER 10: The Formation of Issue Concepts and Partisan Change
Commentaries on American electoral politics routinely invoke ideological terminology in order to account for election outcomes and patterns of voting behavior. For example, strong performances by Republican candidates, such as those in the elections of 1994 and 2002, are often viewed as evidence that the public favors conservative approaches and solutions to the policy issues...
CHAPTER 11: Membership in Social Groupings
The majority of Americans are not formal members of a political party. But they do feel some psychological affiliation of a party, and that strongly shapes their political behavior. Official party activists compose a very small group, but the group that is psychologically attached to a party is large. That group identification helps us greatly in analyzing their individual political choices. Citizens...
CHAPTER 12: Class and Other Social Characteristics
In any democracy, the behavior of the voting public may be studied as individuals or as members of groups. Among all possible social groupings, none has received more notice than social class. This is because, first the concept is exhaustive, excluding...
CHAPTER 13: Economic Antecedents of Political Behavior
The notion that economics shapes politics is well-worn. Dramatic events, such as the Great Depression, can bring down presidents and put workers in welfare lines. Continued hard times can lead to demands for a change in the two-party system, including calls...
SECTION V: The Electoral Decision and the Political System
CHAPTER 14: The Electoral Decision
It is common to seek to ascertain the meaning of a national election. Starting on election night itself, pundits attempt to read the tea leaves as to why citizens voted as they did. Many potential explanations are proposed by the media and by interest groups eager to have the election interpreted in their favor. In due...
CHAPTER 15: Electoral Behavior and the Political System
Most voting studies focus on the causes of the electoral decision, rather than on the effects. They want to know, as we have, what explains the vote choice. Why do voters go to the polls? Why do they select one candidate over another? Answering such questions is a valuable enterprise, and one manifest in the bulk of this volume...
AFTERWORD: The American Voter Then and Now
How would we evaluate “the” American voter of the early twenty-firs century, and how does he or she compare with “the” American voter of the mid-twentieth century? We can begin to answer these questions by going back through some of the main...
APPENDIX A: Counterpart Tables and Figures
APPENDIX B: Replication of The American Voter
Page Count: 512
Illustrations: 86 tables & 46 figs.
Publication Year: 2008
OCLC Number: 587781518
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The American Voter Revisited