Thesis: What are the predominant political factors that affect the voting behavior of a population ? Hypothesis : Pluralism, ideology, religion and social factors are the predominant political factors that affect the voting behavior of the population. Introduction : Pluralism in voting population is a natural phenomena in European and American cosmopolitan societies . Elsewhere, in Asia and far- East ethnic diversity too exists. A consequence of this pluralism is multi-party political system .Interests of different segregated sections of society based on issues, ethnicity, public policy, loyalties etc.
are represented by different political parties.
This should ideally and practically lead to a multi-party system . This system is obviously more democratic. The voters choice is increased . The political parties thus become more competitive against each other. This makes the political parties more accountable to the people in order to win their ‘trust and confidence’. This pluralism affects voting behavior and has serious impacts on national politics. Voters choices are often prejudiced and biased. This is quite reasonable as we are living in an imperfect society.
The American Elections : Voting behavior in Democrat and Republican elections ‘A loss of American voter’s faith in Democracy.’
The American voters today don’t identify themselves with either Democrats or Republicans according to many surveys and statistical studies. The Presidential elections have seen a decline in the participation of eligible voters , as observed since the 1950s and 1960s. The eligible voting population has increased in America but the number of registered voters is decreasing. Dissatisfied by the Democrats and Republicans not bringing effective reforms the voters have lost interest in politics as a consequence of politicians.
“Does this phenomena indicate the American citizens disillusionment with a predominantly much polarized American two-party democracy?” According to political scientists the political non-participation of Americans is a matter of concern for the health of American political system. The Americans are now cynical and distrustful of politics, politicians and the Government. Experts believe such a trend could lead to the breakdown of American political system. Contrary to the belief of these experts many Democrat and Republican partisan parties claim they have the ability to draw supporters for their parties.
They argue that the American’s have thus not lost faith in Democracy. Viewpoints. Voting Behavior. Introduction. <http://www.enotes.com/voting-behavior-article> ‘The ‘God-gap’ difference between the Republicans and the democrats’ The Republicans are known for their conservative ideology and policies whereas the democrats are known for their liberal ones. It is a well established public opinion that the more religiously an American is inclined the more likely he is to vote for the Republicans and the other way round for the Democrats. Karlyn Bowman a public relations expert raised a question in this context at a conference for media men.
This ‘God-gap’ had overshadowed many other issues and changed the voting patterns in the November, 2006 Presidential elections. Thus the ‘God-gap’ has begun to play an important role in the American public life. Since 1992, this gap , between the frequent and the not so frequent worshipers, regardless of their religious background has become prominent. Conservative leaders were the first to guess this voter behavior and to capitalize on it. The talk became all the more popular with the Pundits, intellectuals, liberal strategists and academics – the chattering class !
They added fuel to the fire.9/11 and it’s aftermath established the God- gap as a decisive public opinion maker. Thus, the public power of religion got firmly established in the American society. In the elections to come neither the Conservatives nor the Democrats can afford to underplay it. The November 2006 Presidential elections shall be followed with contests between the Republicans and Democrats to woo a sizeable vote-bank ; the one created by the ‘God-gap’. In Politics, the ‘God-gap’ Overshadows Other Differences New York Times. By Peter Steinfels. Published December 9, 2006. <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/09/us/politics/09beliefs.html> ‘The Religious vote base’ The Republicans have often used their religion conservative base to win votes.
Consequently Mr. George Bush won his second term in the office. This has concerned the democrats and they have lately been working on the religious vote. White evangelical and the born-again Christians again voted for the Republican candidate in the last two elections. Nationwide exit polls show that nothing has changed in favor of the Democrats. Around 70-72 percent of the evangelical and the born again Christians voted for the Republican Presidential candidate in the last two elections. Deliberate call for a religious vote by some Democratic senate candidates did win them a significant proportion of Roman Catholics and white mainline Protestants votes in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.
However trends are changing, say, in many states like Colorado. Most American’s Bobby Clark, Deputy Director of a liberal group in Colorado says,” Most Americans are now a pretty moderate people.” The Rev. Troy Newman called the election day ‘a bloody Tuesday’. His anti-abortion Operation Rescue lost favor with American’s in South Dakota and California. The Democratic parties liberal anti-abortion policies were endorsed by the people. Religious Voting Data Show Some Shift, Observers Say. New York Times. By Laurie Goodstein. Published November 9, 2006. <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/09/us/politics/09relig.html> ‘Cashing on the African-American vote-bank’ African-American’s constitute nearly half the votes in South Carolina.
A remarkable portion ! This phenomena of the African-American vote-bank is now well recognized both by the Republicans and the Democrats. The racial divide still exists and is well exploited. The candidates have no compunctions visiting black churches accepting their endorsements before the elections. They even don’t hesitate in identifying with king Martin Luther! Empirical data suggests that the African –American vote has been with the Democrats who have more actively fought for their cause. The Conservatives are taking no chances now . The situation in South Carolina mirrors the entire America.
The African-American voters can no longer be taken for granted. They are now armed with education and leaders. They have made significant contributions to all spheres of American life- Arts, science, literature, Sports etc. In a nut-shell they are now enlightened about their rights and privileges. Black and Bruised. The New York Times, Monday, December, 24, 2007.by Joann Wypijewski. Published February 1, 2004. <http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A00E1D71738F932A35751C0A9629C8B63>
‘The Feminist ideology ’ John Kerry actively involved himself in a campaign – the Women vote bank. He was establishing his credentials presiding over women audiences. His enthusiastic drive to win over the much contested vote-bank – Women. This bastion, the Democrats claimed rightly belonged to them Mr. Bush in his campaign had projected himself as the best candidate to protect the Americans against the terrorists. The 9/11 scare was worst to affect the women. Mr. Bush’s campaign as the best candidate to protect the American’s against the terrorists caught favor with women. According to New York Times/ CBS Polls Democrats polled less, loosing ground with Democratic parties most secure women-votes.
Their has been a remarkable change in the trend. To quote statistics in 2000, 54 percent of women voted for Al Gore while only 43 percent voted for Mr. George Bush, the republican candidate. The news of the 9/11 terrorist attack and the unacceptable terrorist attack against children in Russia, used provocatively by the Republicans created a considerable challenge for Mr. John Kerry and the Democrats. Mr. Bush gave a fight to the Democrats on their own strong hold-the women-vote. Mr. Bush used his success in toppling the Afghan’s in yet another novel way. He projected the new found freedom of the Afghan women to woo feminist sentiments. Statistics show that the voter turnout of women has increased over the last Presidential elections.
The two parties are working on the idea to polarize the feminist activism in their favor. On the other front they are drawing more and more women to the ballot box. More and more women candidates are being fielded in elections for public offices. Hillary Rodham Clinton , the wife of former President Mr. Bill Clinton is contesting in the next Presidential elections. She is being viewed as a strong contender for the position. This scenario echoes the general mood of the American people. Thus the feminist ideology holds ground affecting elections and political parties. The New York Times, Kerry in a Struggle for a Democratic Base: Women, by Katherine Q.Seelye. Published September 2, 2004. <http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/22/politics/campaign/22women.html>
Conclusion : We can thus conclude that Pluralism, ideology, Religion and social factors are the predominant factors affecting voter behavior. Pluralism exists across European and American politics and even in Asia and the far- East. The concept of pluralism elucidates that a multi-party system has both positive and negative impacts on voters behavior. The voter has the right to choose the party he trusts. Although he might be biased and prejudiced in his attitudes. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are now able to associate themselves with the common American.
The decline in participation of eligible voters population in America since the 1950s and 960s suggest that the American voter has lost faith in the political system- politics, politicians and the Government. Since 1992, the ‘God-gap’ factor has begun to play an important role in American elections. Both the Democrats and Republicans are creating and fuelling this gap to cash on votes. The Democrats and Republicans are playing their Religious cards. The electorate is swinging between the Democrats and Republicans.
The last two Presidential elections saw 70-72 percent Christian hardliners voting for the conservative Republicans. The situation is changing in favor of the Democrats with the American people becoming more moderate in their values. The African-American voter is now valued due to his predominance in states like South Carolina. The women voters actively participated in the last few Presidential elections according to statistics. 9/11 and it’s aftermath left a deeper influence on women voters.