Date of Award

1-1-2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

McClurg,Scott

Abstract

Several recent studies on information shortcuts and electoral vote choice show that challenges to classic democratic theory are largely exaggerated. Namely, there is now convincing evidence towards Americans having the ability to cast votes that are representative of their own political preferences. Research on such heuristics largely depend on presidential election data however, and it remains uncertain how voters respond to less salient elections where candidate information may not be as apparent and electoral communication efforts are more dismal. This study utilizes a voting correctly measure previously developed to analyze the ability of voters during Senate elections. Special attention in this study is given towards individual characteristics and campaign characteristics. First, individual characteristics, such as social and demographic variables, are expected to have an effect on voting correctly based on previous political behavior studies noting group disparities among political interest, knowledge, engagement, and turnout. Second, campaign characteristics are hypothesized to have an effect on quality voting based on literature explaining how campaigns matter in an informational sense. The findings reported in this study provide lackluster evidence towards the ability of voters to make preferred decisions based on limited information and minimal campaign effects on correct voting.

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