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Interpreting Elections

Interpreting Elections

STANLEY KELLEY
Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvz58
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  • Book Info
    Interpreting Elections
    Book Description:

    Stanley Kelley, Jr., offers a new way of interpreting election outcomes without relying on the kind of arbitrary speculation usually elicited by this and other questions. He examines presidential elections from 1952 to 1981), with emphasis on the Johnson and Nixon landslides.

    Originally published in 1983.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5565-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xiii-2)
    Stanley Kelley Jr.
  5. CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-9)

    The belief that elections carry obvious messages is widely shared in democratic nations. It is held by many protest voters, surely, and evidently by those politicians, reporters, editors, scholars, and promoters of causes and interests who, in the immediate aftermath of an election, say with great assurance what it means. The same belief has been a premise of democratic theorists, many of whom, like John Stuart Mill, have seen elections as a “periodical muster of opposing forces, to gauge the state of the national mind, and ascertain, beyond dispute, the relative strength of different parties and opinions.”¹

    The wide acceptance...

  6. CHAPTER TWO A THEORY OF VOTING
    (pp. 10-25)

    A good starting point for thinking about the interpretation of elections is a quite simple conception of the way people make choices, in voting and more generally. One may conceive of any choice as involving a set ofconsiderations(or prima facie reasons for choosing in one way or another) and arulefor combining (or weighing) them. To know both the considerations and the rule is to explain the choice, if it has already been made, or to predict it, if it has not. Thus, the first two commandments for the interpreter of elections are: Look for the considerations...

  7. CHAPTER THREE THREE TESTS OF DECISIVENESS
    (pp. 26-42)

    The termlandslideentered the language of politics in the nineteenth century. Used by geologists as a synonym for avalanche, landslip, or slide, the word came to mean any particularly one-sided election, and that is still its connotation today,¹ though in actual usage elections have attained landslide status rather easily. According to Max Frankel, “The term has been applied to cases in which a Presidential candidate lost no more than ten states or carried eighty per cent of the electoral votes or at least fifty-three per cent of the popular vote. By those standards, there have been twenty-four landslides in...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR ISSUES AND OUTCOMES
    (pp. 43-71)

    In assessing the extent to which the elections of 1964 and 1972 were decisive, I have ignored so far the substance of the concerns that underlay net scores and credit ratings. No full account of the decisiveness of an election can properly do so. In politics, as in everyday life, we rightly take the grounds for preferences as indicators of their durability: Some issues that affect voting are specific to particular elections and imply nothing for later ones or even for later support for the winning candidate, while other issues arise again and again, and parties and candidates become identified...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE 1964: THET WICE-OVER LANDSLIDE
    (pp. 72-98)

    In 1964 many observers regarded the Goldwater campaign as strikingly unorthodox. Republican strategists made the winning of the former Confederate states’ 128 electoral votes a premise of their plans to capture the presidency, though Ulysses S. Grant had been the last Republican candidate to carry more than five of these states. Senator Goldwater also promised to sharpen his party’s programmatic differences with New Deal and post-New Deal Democracy. For years, conservative Republicans had been urging that course of action on their party as a remedy for its electoral ills. Republican candidates had been defeated in presidential elections after 1936, went...

  10. CHAPTER SIX 1972: A CLOSE LANDSLIDE
    (pp. 99-125)

    Even before the votes were counted in 1972, Richard Nixon was considering how he might use the lopsided victory that he expected. A Iandslide and the mandate it implied, he told Theodore H. White, would strengthen his hand in foreign affairs: “If we can win and win well, we can talk to China with great authority, to the Soviet Union, to Japan.”¹ To Congress, “he [Nixon] was going to say . . . the country has spoken, and put out his own views on welfare,, on a program of fiscal responsibility, on other matters.”²

    It was not long before Nixon...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN LANDSLIDES AND MANDATES
    (pp. 126-142)

    A recurrent feature of the interpretation of elections—particularly of landslides—is the search for mandates. Both the politicians and the press look for mandates, find them, and invoke them in debates of governmental policy. Willy-nilly, the theory of electoral mandates has become part of American constitutional doctrine, albeit an oddly casual part. Those who find mandates hardly ever say how they did so, and those who claim to be acting in obedience to mandates rarely see any need to justify such obedience.

    The theory of electoral mandates has never loomed so large in American politics as it has in...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT RULE BY THE WORST OF THE MANY
    (pp. 143-166)

    The meaning that we assign to elections depends substantially on our assessments of the quality of the decisions by voters that go into them, and these assessments make a difference. In the words of V. O. Key,

    Obviously, the perceptions of the behavior of the electorate held by political leaders, agitators, and activists condition, if they do not fix, the types of appeals politicians employ as they seek popular support.... They may govern, too, the kinds of actions that governments take as they look forward to the next election. If politicians perceive the electorate as responsive to father images, they...

  13. CHAPTER NINE 1980: THE UNEXPECTED LANDSLIDE
    (pp. 167-224)

    How the press assigns meaning to elections is important in itself and also because its approaches to that task are illustrative of those commonly employed. Journalists routinely interpret elections, as no other group in society does, and in recent years well-designed surveys of opinion sponsored by the press have become a major source of information about elections. No other interpretations of elections have the political significance that those of the news media do, at least in the short run: The press gets there first with the most publicity, and first impressions of elections tend to endure. Though reporters work under...

  14. APPENDIX I
    (pp. 225-238)
  15. APPENDIX II DEFINITIONS OF ISSUES
    (pp. 239-262)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 263-268)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 269-269)