Abstention in US election

What is paradoxical about the democracy of the US?
It is the world's greatest advocate of democracy but turnout at elections is among the lowest in the democratic world, particularly as other forms of participation, such as pressure groups, are high
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What distinction is it important to note?
Between fgures for the turnout of the voting age population which includes all voters over 18 whether registered or not, non-citizens and felons, and those for the turnout of registered voters
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How does turnout appear when measured by voting age population?
Turnout appears low
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What is the turnout like of registered voters?
It is usually a high turnout
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What are the eight things that explain high abstention?
Voter registration, 'democratic overload' or 'voter fatigue', media-dominated campaigns, lack of choice, decline in partisanship, the electoral system and the Electoral College, voter apathy and cynicism and 'hapathy'
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How has getting registered to vote been made easier?
The Help America Vote Act (2002) allows same-say registration, early voting in many states, registration drives to mobilise the vote and there are no barriers to voting (except felony in some states)
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Does this help turnout?
No, many voters still fail to register
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Does the registration process fully explain high abstention?
No, the registration process does not fully explain why voters do not register and why registered voters do not turn out to vote so other explanations are needed
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What is the range of posts that voters can vote for?
From the president down to local civic officials
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What does this wide range result in?
A huge number of elections resulting in a sense of permanent campaigning which causes voters to switch off
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What types of media can influence politics?
Soundbites, photo-opportunities and negative advertising
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What is the result of candidates spending millions of dollars on media in their campaigns?
They end up saying little about real issues which can alienate voters
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What are two examples of candidates failing to impress voters?
In the 2000 campaign, characterised as 'Bore v Gush' and in th 2004 campaign, described as the Texas cowboy against the Boston elitist
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What is the result of parties perceived as uninspiring?
They fail to offer a clear choice of values and principles
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What kind of voters choose to use their vote and who do not?
Voters with strong party identification use their vote, while those without tend not to
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What happens when the number of voters without a party identification increases?
Turnout falls
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Where do people see very little point in voting?
In 'safe' states and districts
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Why do they see very little point in voting?
If a voter's preferred candidate has so little support that they cannot win, or so much that they cannot lose, there is little incentive to vote
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What do voters who feel that voting doesn't make a difference to their lives think?
Remote, lobbyist-dominated government in Washington is not responsive to their views
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How has cynicism been increased?
By dissatisfaction with presidential performance and political scandals
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What is 'hapathy'?
The idea that voters are so content that they do not need to vote
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How does hapathy reduce turnout?
It is the satisfaction with the system, not alienation from it
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What is an example of fluctuating turnout?
In 2008, it rose to 64%, the highest since 1960 with 131 million voters casting ballots
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What were the reasons for the high turnout in 2008?
The success of the 'Ground War' turn-out-the-vote effort, important issues surrounding the election, the availability of more inspiring candidates and the absence of widespread negative campaigning
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How can the result of elections be decided?
By who does and doesn't decide to turn out to vote which is different in each election
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What is an example of the result of an 'enthusiasm gap'?
One in every three voters who voted in 2008 did not vote in 2010
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What type of people tend to abstain?
More low-income, less educated, younger and minority voters
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What does this abstention from these types of people result in?
Damage to the Democrats' prospects
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What type of people is abstention lower in?
High-income, elderly, educated, suburban white voters
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What does this lower abstention in these types of people result in?
It helps the Republicans cause
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What type of elections is turnout lower in and why?
In the mid-terms where incumbency may be a strong factor influencing outcomes
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When is turnout even lower than mid-terms?
In primary elections
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What does low turnout result in?
It undermines the winning candidates' claim to mandates and legitimacy
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What is this low turnout regarded as?
A flaw in a representative democracy
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

What distinction is it important to note?

Back

Between fgures for the turnout of the voting age population which includes all voters over 18 whether registered or not, non-citizens and felons, and those for the turnout of registered voters

Card 3

Front

How does turnout appear when measured by voting age population?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

What is the turnout like of registered voters?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

What are the eight things that explain high abstention?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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