The Indictment of the American Voter

Paul Goren

in On Voter Competence

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195396140
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979301 | DOI:

Series: Series in Political Psychology

The Indictment of the American Voter

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A rich line of research in political science and political psychology focuses on how liberal-conservative orientations and issue preferences impact the choices citizens make in U.S. presidential elections. This body of work demonstrates that those who know a lot about public affairs are capable of relating their ideological and issue preferences to their votes. Conversely, those who know and care little about public affairs do not engage in these kinds of policy voting. This chapter raises the key question animating the book: how can voters who know little about public affairs come to evaluate presidential candidates on policy grounds. The answer is that there exists a “third face” of policy voting, one centered on core policy principles. These include limited government, traditional morality, and military strength. The chapter previews the theoretical argument and key findings to emerge from the subsequent empirical analyses.

Keywords: voting; elections; limited government; traditional morality; military strength; political sophistication; voter competence

Chapter.  5595 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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