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Making Political Choices

Making Political Choices: Canada and the United States

Harold D. Clarke
Allan Kornberg
Thomas J. Scotto
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Making Political Choices
    Book Description:

    "A timely and important contribution to voting literature. Both Canadians and Americans will develop a better understanding of their neighbours' elections, but will also gain many new insights into the politics of their own country." - Larry LeDuc, University of Toronto

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0342-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
    (pp. 7-8)
    (pp. 9-10)
    (pp. 11-14)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Political Choices and Valence Politics
    (pp. 15-36)

    This is a book about voting in national elections, one of the most important and by far the most frequent political act in which citizens in mature democracies engage. Our focus is on eight national elections in Canada and the United States, two of the world’s oldest democracies. In Canada the four elections we have selected for analysis are the 1988, 1993, 2004, and 2006 federal elections. In the United States our concern is with the 1980, 2000, and 2004 presidential elections, and the 2006 congressional election. We have selected these elections largely because we view them as offering strong...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Flawless Campaign, Fragile Victory: The 2006 Canadian Federal Election
    (pp. 37-66)

    Canada’s 23rd federal election was held on January 23, 2006. Only 20 months earlier, on June 28, 2004, the governing Liberals—in power continuously since 1993—had been reduced to a minority in Parliament, winning 135 of 308 seats and 37 per cent of the popular vote. Minority governments in Canada typically have quite short half-lives, and the Liberal government formed in 2004 was no exception. After narrowly avoiding defeat on its budget bill in May 2005, the government lost a vote of confidence in the House of Commons on November 28, and Canadians faced the prospect of a winter...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Too Close to Call: The 2004 Canadian Federal Election
    (pp. 67-100)

    Canada’s June 28, 2004, federal election was an exciting and, in some ways, a surprising contest. One major surprise was the election campaign itself. Rather than being the predictable, boring contest many commentators had anticipated, the campaign was a closely fought battle between the long-time governing Liberals and the new Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), formed only six months before the election was called. The election produced a Liberal victory, but the party won only a minority of parliamentary seats. How long the Liberals would be able to hold onto power was anyone’s guess. A second surprise, at least for...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Red Voters, Blue Voters: The 2004 American Presidential Election
    (pp. 101-138)

    Other than Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, no American president’s identity was changed so quickly and dramatically from peacetime to wartime president by a single event as was George W. Bush’s. The impact of the transforming events—the Confederates firing on Fort Sumpter, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and Al-Qaeda’s attacks on New York and Washington—undoubtedly were heightened because they occurred on American territory. Other presidents, of course, had had both their public and personal lives changed by war and its aftermath. For example, Woodrow Wilson only reluctantly took the United States into World War I to “make...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Doing Politics His Way: The 2000 American Presidential Election
    (pp. 139-170)

    It was Winston Churchill, Britain’s great leader during World War II, who is alleged to have observed that throughout history certain leaders have had a genius for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. It would not be surprising if on January 20, 2001, thousands of unhappy Democrats, watching George W. Bush take the oath of office as president of the United States, might have ascribed that attribute to their party’s erstwhile candidate, Albert A. Gore, Jr.

    To many political leaders and average citizens alike in the United States and elsewhere, the 2000 presidential election appeared to be one that...

  11. CHAPTER SIX A Big Blue Wave: The 2006 American Congressional Election
    (pp. 171-202)

    Despite the often-quoted conventional wisdom, perhaps best articulated by former Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O’Neil that “all politics are local,” in fact some are not. This was cogently argued by David Brady (1978) in a study of how congressional election outcomes affect public policy. The former speaker’s wisdom to the contrary notwithstanding, Brady observed that some congressional elections become “nationalized,” usually over one or more highly salient “hot button” issues that have failed to be resolved over the years. Illustrative of such issues are the extension of slavery to the territories, which climaxed in 1860 with...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN Mulroney, Reagan, and Three Big Elections
    (pp. 203-242)

    This chapter focuses on the 1988 and 1993 Canadian federal elections and the 1980 American presidential election. Our interest in these elections stems from the fact that all three are considered issue-based contests that should provide strong tests of the rival models of electoral choice investigated in earlier chapters. In the 1980 American presidential election campaign, Republican candidate Ronald Reagan advocated controversial policy proposals for reducing the role of government. As Reagan liked to quip, “Government isn’t the solution to our problem, Governmentisthe problem.” In the campaign he also called for a more aggressive foreign policy, with massive...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT At the Polls? Why (Some) People Vote
    (pp. 243-273)

    Democratic politics and voting go hand in hand. In contemporary democracies, new and old alike, voting in periodic elections is the principal—often the only—way by which the vast majority of people express their political preferences. As observed in Chapter One, most research on voting behavior in Canada, the United States, and elsewhere has focused on the choices people make among candidates and parties rather than on the choice of whether to vote. In many mature democracies, including Canada, the historically heavy emphasis on studying party choice seemingly made sense. Turnout levels in national elections were high, with very...

  14. CHAPTER NINE Political Choices Reconsidered
    (pp. 274-286)

    Studies of voting behavior have a lengthy history. In the United States, the “Columbia” studies of the 1940 and 1948 American presidential elections by Bernard Berelson, Paul Lazarsfeld, and their associates employed what came to be called the sociological model to explain the choices voters make. The principal problem with the model was that most of the sociodemographic attributes of voters change little, if at all, in the interim between elections. However, candidate images and issue concerns do vary from election to election. Issues that have great salience in one election can rapidly recede from public view, and party leaders,...

    (pp. 287-296)
    (pp. 297-298)
    (pp. 299-302)