Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce by Christopher H. Achen, Larry M. Bartels

By Christopher H. Achen, Larry M. Bartels

Democracy for Realists assails the romantic folk-theory on the middle of up to date pondering democratic politics and executive, and provides a provocative substitute view grounded within the real human nature of democratic citizens.

Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels set up a wealth of social-scientific proof, together with creative unique analyses of issues starting from abortion politics and price range deficits to the nice melancholy and shark assaults, to teach that the time-honored excellent of considerate voters guidance the send of country from the balloting sales space is essentially faulty. They reveal that voters--even people who are good knowledgeable and politically engaged--mostly decide on events and applicants at the foundation of social identities and partisan loyalties, now not political concerns. additionally they express that citizens regulate their coverage perspectives or even their perceptions of easy concerns of truth to check these loyalties. whilst events are approximately frivolously matched, elections frequently activate inappropriate or deceptive issues reminiscent of financial spurts or downturns past the incumbents' regulate; the results are primarily random. therefore, citizens don't keep watch over the process public coverage, even indirectly.

Achen and Bartels argue that democratic conception should be based on id teams and political events, no longer at the personal tastes of person electorate. Democracy for Realists presents a robust problem to standard pondering, pointing the way in which towards a essentially assorted knowing of the realities and power of democratic government.

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1. 2. 3. The Impact of Watergate Attitudes on Issue Preferences, 1972–1976 292 Preface This book is the result of a long conversation. The authors first met in 1974, when Achen was a beginning assistant professor and Bartels was an even younger freshman in college. But the conversation did not begin in earnest until a quarter century later, after years of teaching and writing about public opinion, electoral politics, political representation, and public policy had left us similarly, but mostly separately, deeply uneasy about the significant tensions we saw between the findings of empirical social science and the familiar text-book portrait of democracy.

Schumpeter gave little attention to the criteria by which voters would—or should—choose among potential rulers. However, subsequent scholars have fleshed out his account. The most influential model of democratic selection in contemporary political science is the retrospective theory of voting, which portrays “the electorate in its great, and perhaps principal, role as an appraiser of past events, past performance, and past actions” (Key 1966, 61). In this view, election outcomes hinge not on ideas, but on public approval or disapproval of the actual performance of incumbent political leaders.

We will argue that voters, even the most informed voters, typically make choices not on the basis of policy preferences or ideology, but on the basis of who they are—their social identities. In turn, those social identities shape how they think, what they think, and where they belong in the party system. But if voting behavior primarily reflects and reinforces voters’ social loyalties, it is a mistake to suppose that elections result in popular control of public policy. Thus, our approach makes a sharp break with conventional thinking.

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