Unconventional Wisdom: Facts and Myths About American Voters by Karen M. Kaufmann

By Karen M. Kaufmann

Overdue deciders opt for the challenger; turnout is helping the Democrats; the gender hole effects from a surge in Democratic choice between women--these and plenty of different myths are ordinary fare between commonplace voters, political pundits, or even a few lecturers. yet are those traditional wisdoms--familiar to a person who watches Sunday morning speak shows--really valid?Unconventional knowledge deals a unique but hugely obtainable synthesis of what we all know approximately American electorate and elections. It not just offers an built-in assessment of the imperative topics in American politics--parties, polarization, turnout, partisan bias, crusade results, swing citizens, the gender hole, and the adolescence vote--it upends a lot of our primary preconceptions. most significantly, it exhibits that the yank voters is way extra sturdy than now we have been resulted in think, and that the balloting styles we see this day have deep roots in our historical past. all through, the publication presents finished details on balloting styles; illuminates (and corrects) renowned myths approximately electorate and elections; and information the empirical foundations of traditional wisdoms that many comprehend poorly or by no means. Written by way of 3 specialists on American politics, Unconventional knowledge serves as either a customary reference and a concise evaluate of the topic. either informative and witty, the ebook is probably going to develop into a customary paintings within the box, crucial examining for an individual attracted to American politics.

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First, all classes of identifiers—strong identifiers, weak identifiers, leaners, and independents— respond to the short-term tide presented by the election environment. Partisans vote more heavily for the candidate of their party when the environment of the election reinforces their predisposition and less heavily when the tide of the election makes their candidate or the issues he represents less attractive. Second, the shift is moderated by the strength of the individual’s identification. It is smallest among those who express 33 34 Unconventional Wisdom the strongest party attachments and greatest for those with weak—or no—party loyalties.

14 In all, party identification makes electoral politics a predictable feature of the political system because of its powerful influence on voters. The Meaning of Partisanship and Party Identification Much ink has been spent on promoting contrasting definitions and conceptualizations of partisanship and party identification. 16 We do not engage that debate, but it is useful to understand what we are thinking about when we use the term party identification. First, we view it as an expression of preference for one party over the other.

We should emphasize, however, that changes in political context do not affect all voters the same way: party attachment matters. While Democrats may react as much as independents to short-term forces, their expected vote is quite different. Approximately 80 percent of weak and leaning Democrats will vote for the Democratic candidate when short-term forces favor the Democrats, while only 59 percent of independents are expected to vote for the Democrat. When short-term forces favor the GOP, we expect a 57 or 58 percent Democratic vote among Democrats but only about 37 percent support for the Democrat among independents.

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