Voting Behavior Suffrage Is an


A foresighted electorate can induce policies with benefits that endure beyond the next election. In this light, the traditional model may need to be revised about the criteria that connect the electorate, politicians and public policy. Aggregated forecast goes beyond the individual talents of members. To the extent that the mass public's political evaluations of the present depends on how the future is modified, politics may be grounded less on everyday life and much more firmly on the reach of the human imagination (Mackuen).

The results of the 2000 election put an end to the assumption that economic considerations always decided the impact of presidential elections (Norrander and Wilcox 2002). It indicated that economic evaluations possess changing dynamics, which led the voters to decide that the 1991-1992 recession could be forgotten or it was too distant to matter. Although the special circumstances prevailing in 2000 went against the emergence of economic issues as decisive, they still influenced voters' choices. Moreover, the 1992 and 1996 elections underscored that such issues tend to crucially determine how presidential elections would turn out.

Another study compared the two principal theories of human rationality applied in political research: the procedural bounded rationality theory derived from contemporary cognitive psychology and the global rationality theory chiefly drawn from economics (Simon 1985). Findings of the study show that it is far easier to calculate rational response to a specific situation than to arrive at a reasonable specification of the situation and that, without painstaking empirical study, there is no way to predict which of the numerous reasonable specifications the subjects will take or adopt. The findings also suggest that the mechanisms of attention directing, situation defining and evoking are the most promising targets of political research. Where political ideas arise is not only highly deserving of pursuit but also lies within the competence of contemporary research techniques.

Research shows that governments dominate the economic scene -- their spending, taxes, policies and domestic regulations -- but are not at all commensurate with their dominance (Downs 1957). Economic theory has not come up with a satisfactory behavior rule for governments that could predict the actions of consumers and firms under these governments. A model of an economic theory of democracy offers a rule whereby democratic governments act rationally to maximize support. These governments pursue this goal under three conditions: a democratic political structure that allows opposition parties to coexist, an n atmosphere of varying degrees of uncertainty, and an electorate of rational voters. Previous economic models have been offered, such as Buchanan's, which suggested a dichotomy between the organismic and individualistic concept of state; Samuelson and Baumols, which argued that the state could efficiently undertake only straight-income transfers and actions with indivisible benefits; Bergson's, which tried to link individual and social ends from a purely ethical standpoint; and Arrow's, which countered that no such link could be established rationally without dictation. This model avoids the extremes in Buchanan's model; points to the many legitimate roles of the state, as opposed to Samuelson and Baumol's; adopts an ethical axiom in political form in comparison with Bergson's; and attempts to show how the dilemma in Arrow's model can be resolved.

The response of the electorate to politics has been deemed to be a major determinant of the structure of the party system as well as that of the strategies of the parties and of the behavior of policy-forming elites (Campbell 1960). This behavior does not offer simple or dominant theories of politics or establish voting as a primary role in the political system. It has to consider institutional factors, such as the nature of the executive, the separation of powers in the national government, and the federal character of the political system. But understanding electoral behavior brings a lot of light and understanding on the political system. A study explored some of these effects of the electorate's slight involvement in politics and limited awareness of public affairs; of the non-ideological quality of its thinking; and the pervasive character of partisan commitments. The study argues that these qualities of the prevailing response to politics suggest important elements of American government. Their power to do so also suggests that important additional connections can be made or discovered by a closer consideration of the influence relations linking the electoral process to other means of decision in the political system (Downs).

Evidence holds that economic intelligence guides and leads voters to the retrospective view of the future in making political choices on the economy and presidential approval (Norpoth 1996). The view maintains that Americans ignore forecasts on the state of the economy and, instead, evaluate the recent performance of the economy. This opinion drastically refutes the "banker" assumption about presidential approval, in which people's views get too closely linked to retrospective assumptions and, thus, lose any independent weight or become too sensitive to political interventions. This reliance on retrospective rather than prospective views does not mean that voters lack sophistication. People evaluate their own economic well-being but they go beyond the limits of personal welfare (Norpoth). Another study arrived at the conclusion that evaluations of the national economy exert some influence on candidate choice for almost all groups of voters at varying sophistication levels. It examined elections and found that personal financial circumstances exert a significant impact on the choice of candidate and that greater sophistication helps voters make the sometimes-difficult connection between financial circumstances in everyday life and the President's national policy decisions. Sophistication has indeed proved to be an important predictor of whether they will make this attribution or link. It invites greater attention to the psychological and cognitive roots of voter heterogeneity (Norpoth).

It has also been suggested that the concept of rational behavior is more ambiguous than many assume (Ferejohn and Fiorina 1974). The most widely known rule is that of maximizing expected utility, but there are other criteria, such as the minimax regret decision criteria. Utility maximizers go to the polls only under most stringent conditions, whereas minimax regret decision makers need little motivation to participate. The expected utility maximizer estimates the probabilities of events and utilities of outcomes. The minimax regret decision maker imagines himself in a future state and chooses the action with maximum error. Demographic variables somewhat show weak but significant relationships with voting turnout and present analysis indicates that maximin decision makers would turnout less frequently than minimax regret decision makers. Maximin decision makers never vote and are these not the culturally deprived rather than the rich and the educated? This analysis suggests that sophisticated behavior and the use of more demanding rationality criterion are concentrated in the well educated. Changes in the cost of voting may explain changes among socioeconomic categories, but deeper relationships may underlie participation differences among demographic groups.


Inconsistent voting patterns of behavior and voting turnout can be traced from the obstacles that hamper electorate participation and discourage voting and these are the difficulties encountered in simply registering. Add to these obstacles the inherent individualism and the distrust of voters in the government. There is also undue emphasis on registration as an arduous administrative and bureaucratic task. Further down are long-term and short-term predispositions, voters' marital status, gender and socio-economic status.

There have been efforts at exploring whether the U.S. electorate thinks, behaves or decides as a banker with the national economic welfare in mind or as a farmer with only his immediate standards of living as major concern. It has also been assumed that the economic intelligence of the voters is stronger if their forecasts are aggregated than if they remained on an individual level.

Political thinkers have also theorized that governments cannot predict the decisions and actions of consumers and firms under them and thus offered a model that would follow the notion that all governments rationally acted to maximize support.

Popular political opinions maintain that the economic intelligence of the U.S. electorate has guided and led it to adopt the retrospective view of the future, wherein it judges the future on account of the past and acts according to this judgment.#


1. Campbell, A., et al. (1960). The American Voter. Survey Research Center. University of Michigan. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

2. Downs, A. (1957). An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper and Brothers

3. Ferejohn, J.A. And Fiorina, M.P. (1974). The Paradox of Not Voting: a Decision Theoretic Analysis. American Political Science Review, vol 68 issue 2 525-536.

4. Gomez, B.T. And Wilson, J.M. (2001). Political Sophistication and Economic Voting in the American Electorate: a Theory of Heterogeneous Attribution. Midwest Political Science Association. American Journal of Political Science, vol 45 number 4, October 2001, 899-914.

5. Lau, R.B. And Redlawsk, D.P. (2001). Advantages and Disadvantages of Cognitive Heuristics in Political Decisions. American Journal of Political Science, vol 45 issue 5, October 21, 2001, 951-971

6. Mackuen, M.B., et al. (1992). Peasants or Bankers? The American Electorate and the U.S. Economy. American…