Election Studies: What's Their Use? by Elihu Katz, Yael Warshel

By Elihu Katz, Yael Warshel

Academic reviews of elections aren't within the company of predicting results. they're within the company of explaining them. the easiest reports deal with balloting facts as uncooked fabric with which to discover socio-psychological techniques similar to person decision-making and such resources of impact as concerns, character, media, socio-economic historical past, and get together loyalty. The ebb and movement of ideologies and the comparative workings of other political structures are middle issues on which election reports shed mild. in retrospect on greater than fifty years of vote casting examine, a few of its significant practitioners and critics replicate the following on what has--and has not--been accomplished.

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However, the magnitude of the relations usually found suggests that more work should be put into conceptualizing and evaluating how such personal relationships and interactions affect voting behavior, taking into account historical changes in the rela- tive importance in society of various reference and membership groups, particularly a shift from family to peer influence in the crucial political-generation years of adolescence (Mannheim, 1952). The classic studies examined voting effects of other groups beyond the family, for example, friendship groups and coworkers.

AI1 of these strategies have promise for certain purposes in future election studies. The utilization of one or another approach has often been determined by accidental availability, particularly in the early, poorly funded studies. For example, Lazarsfeld adapted his study of the 1940 election to take advantage of funds available for a commercial study of potential refrigerator buyers, moonlighting to collect election data by asking the fridge interviewees additional political questions. The Panel Study Approach.

S. presidential election remains an event of world importance, still mystifying and consequential enough to justify a high level of research. Learning how advertising works and when and why it is particularly effective are questions of practical importance even when the ads studied are designed only to sell soap. S. presidents, the importance of understanding the process of persuasive communication is multiplied by the importance of the subject matter being studied. Contributions to the Clarification of Basic Theoretical I s s ~ e s Election studies have also served as a useful tool in basic research, A wide variety of theoretical issues about the person and society can be investigated conveniently and meaningfully in the context of election studies.

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