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Public Opinion and Voting Behavior of Groups . GOVT 311 Lecture 15. Which Groups have Meaningful Political Differences?. Class Race Age Religion Region Gender. Pocketbook Voting. We have seen that voters tend to use retrospective socio-tropic voting to make their voting decisions

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pocketbook voting
Pocketbook Voting
  • We have seen that voters tend to use retrospective socio-tropic voting to make their voting decisions
  • When it comes to issues important to particular groups, and to identification with parties that support those issues, we see a greater degree of “pocketbook” voting – i.e., self-interested voting
measuring class
Measuring Class
  • Self-placement on social class (2004 GSS):
    • Low 6%
    • Working 43%
    • Middle 49%
    • Upper 3%
  • Income and education: do not directly correspond to class. Skilled working class jobs pay more than some white-collar, college educated middle class jobs.
  • Growing income divide:
    • 1977: top one-fifth earned 44.2% of all income
    • 1997: top one-fifth earned 50.4% of all income
class warfare
Class Warfare
  • Domestic spending:
    • More support among lower classes for increased government spending on retirement benefits, unemployment, and child care.
    • More support among upper class for science and technology spending and foreign aid
  • More support among lower classes for government policies to provide a guaranteed job, standard of living, and universal health care
  • Foreign policy: More support among lower classes for an isolationist viewpoint
  • Partisanship: lower classes tend to align with Democrats
class warfare on non economic policies
Class Warfare on Non-Economic Policies
  • Upper classes more likely to adopt more “liberal” viewpoint on equal treatment of women, abortion, gays rights, and criminal rights
  • The Intersection of Class and Education
    • Abortion: differences among education levels most evident for low income persons
    • Domestic spending: differences among education levels most evident for high income persons
  • When we talk about public opinion and voting behavior of races in the United States, we generally talk about White versus Black, since until recently there have not been enough people of other races to conduct reliable polls
race and public opinion
Race and Public Opinion
  • Review of what we have discussed before:
  • Outer color line: attitudes on issues of equality under the law, such as desegregated schools, have become notably more liberal among whites
  • Intermediate color line: on issues of equal access, such as jobs, there are stark differences between the races.
  • There is also unequal perception in the problem: In 1995 68% of Blacks said racism was a “big problem” compared to only 36% of Whites.
  • The Inner color line: personal relationships, has also seen a tolerant trend.
  • Concern is that Whites have not actually become as more liberal as they say. Whites may desire to give the socially correct response to interviewers.
race and voting behavior
Race and Voting Behavior
  • Two defining events: The New Deal (1930s) and the Civil Rights Movement (1960s)
  • Vote for Kerry:
    • 87% of Blacks
    • 60% of Hispanics
    • 61% of Asians
    • 42% of Whites
  • Party Identification, Dem vs. Rep (2004)
  • Vote for Obama:
  • 95% of Blacks
  • 67% of Hispanics
  • 62% of Asians
  • 43% of Whites
existence of age differences
Existence of Age Differences
  • Three reasons why age differences exist:
    • Composition effects: younger people are more educated
    • Life-cycle effects: As people age, they become more conservative
    • Generational effects: Great events may shape people’s beliefs and attitudes
age and public opinion
Age and Public Opinion
  • Domestic Issues: Young people more supportive of increased government spending (especially student loans). On universal health insurance, nearly equal support among age groups, as young and old people need government insurance. (Life cycle?)
  • On social issues: Young people are decidedly more liberal on abortion, gay rights, and race. (Generational effects?)
  • Foreign affairs: Young people only slightly more “liberal”, though more internationalist at the same time.
age and political behavior
Age and Political Behavior
  • Young people less interested in politics, more likely to believe the U.S. does not need political parties
  • Voting rates of young people:
    • about 30% in presidential elections
    • about 15% in congressional
  • Young people decidedly more ideologically liberal (E&T p.208)
measuring religion
Measuring Religion
  • United States most religious among Western democracies – by a lot!
  • Breakdown
    • 53% Protestant
    • 26% Catholic
    • 2% Jewish
    • 14% None
  • Furthermore, break down Protestant into “fundamentalists” (25%) and Secular (36%)
  • Book does not mention frequency of church attendance – a powerful factor
differences among religions
Differences Among Religions
  • Protestants:
    • Focus on “Protestant Ethic” of individual responsibility
  • Catholics:
    • Until recently, notably poorer
    • Suffered discrimination as tend to be recent immigrants
    • More conservative on abortion, but more liberal on death penalty
    • Democrats have been more supportive of Catholic presidential candidates
  • Jews:
    • Tend to be wealthier
    • As a persecuted minority, tend to be more liberal on social issues
  • None:
    • More liberal on social issues
religion and public opinion
Religion and Public Opinion
  • Domestic Spending: Catholics and Jews tend to be slightly more liberal than Protestants
  • Domestic Policy: Protestants (slightly) tend to be most conservative
  • Foreign Policy: Protestants tend to be a little more isolationist, but at the same time are a little more pro-military
the protestant divide
The Protestant Divide
  • Within Protestant Denominations, Fundamentalists (Baptists) tend to hold more conservative views that Secularists (Presbyterians and Episcopalians).
  • Fundamentalists tend to be Southern, rural, poor, and less educated
  • Secularists tend to be younger.
  • Most striking is abortion: 59% of Secularists support abortion in any case, 11% of fundamentalists (E&T p.2004). Fundamentalists are more hawkish on foreign policy, and strongly support Israel.
religion and political behavior
Religion and Political Behavior
  • Vote for Kennedy
    • Protestant 28%
    • Catholic 83%
    • Jewish 83%
  • Vote for Kerry
    • Protestant 45%
    • Catholic 48%
    • Jewish 75%
  • Conventional Wisdom:
    • South more conservative and Democratic
    • Northeast more liberal
    • West more liberal (or libertarian)
    • Midwest more conservative and isolationist
  • Over time, the South is becoming more like the rest of the country, as attitudes towards Republicans change and as liberal non-southerners move into Southern metropolitan areas and retire in Florida (it’s all about air-conditioning).
within region divide
Within-region divide
  • The urban-suburban-rural divide in American politics continues.