V. O. Key, The Responsible Electorate
Key terms: stand-patters, switchers, new voters (youth and flaky)
It can be an error to assume that because a candidate wins, the majority of the electorate shares his views on public questions
Output is a reflection of the input - peoples verdict can be no more then a selective reflection from among the alternatives presented to them. "If the people can choose only from among rascals, they are certain to choose a rascal."
Switchers often make up 1/5 to 1/8 of the electorate. New voters can change the results of an election, but often don't because nonvoting is high among young people. New voters present a continuing challenge to the contending parties, which must recruit them and attract support from the "in and out" sector of the electorate.
Federal government underwent a radical transformation after the democratic victory 1932. Series of recovery and reform of measures greatly enlarged powers and purview of the federal government. Reelection of the Democrats in 1936 can be seen as a popular ratification of the changes made between 1932 and 1936.
Many of the "switchers" from Democrat to Republican in the era of the new deal were wealthy, and thus not receiving relief. To the extent that Republicans switched to the Democratic Party, which was less common, relatively more poor people made the switch. Here, you have one driving policy aspect defining partisanship of vote.
Voter emerges as a person who appraises the actions of a government, has policy preferences, and relates vote to those appraisals and preferences. Driving policy preferences of "shifters" and "new voters" especially important.
A notable element of data shows that Administration seems to lose the votes of erstwhile supporters who dissent from actions it has taken.
Minority party doesn't play role of imaginative advocate heralding shape of new world-- rather, benefits from shifted voters who are disappointed by the current Administration.
Why did people vote for Eisenhower (R) after so many years of D rule? For one, Korean war played a large factor. (Rise of communism was troubling.) His win can also be seen as the result of a slow ebbing away from the Dem party after a record high of Dem support in 1936 due to the New Deal...finally ended in 1952. Switchers can be seen not as indifferent buffers during this period, but people with real policy preferences who side with either D or R.
In a campaign composed chiefly of fluffy political stimuli (1960 - Kennedy), the voter tends to let himself be guided by an underlying and durable identifications, group loyalties, and preferences.
Voter religion was one of most dramatic contrast in switching between 1956 and 1960.
Interest had an interesting effect. Those who moved against the tide, from R to D, had as high and average level of interest as did the Dem standpatters. Those who moved with the tide did not have as high of interest.
1) Busy citizens just make quick decisions while voting, not a lot of thought. ...but he says a record of voting a certain way requires preferences.
2) Policy preferences may not be expressions of an independent belief, but merely views that persons identified with a party believe as a party line. ...this is discussed by Campbell, he says. That may be the case for stand-patters, but for switchers, it appears something real related to policy preference is happening.