A Profile of the American Electorate takes an extensive look at the political foundations and behaviors of citizens, yesterday and today. Presenting decades of data on voter choice, voter turnout, and public opinion in a way that is clear and accessible for students of political science, the book uniquely emphasizes the importance of voting, socialization, and reform measures to enhance good citizenship. It explores how Americans become conservative or liberal, why some vote and others stay home, their knowledge of politics, how polarized the public has become, and the complex motivations behind their vote choices.
Table of Contents
1 Introduction: Some Politics Change, Some Voters Stay the Same 2 Genesis: How Do People Become Liberals and Conservatives? 3 Voter Choice: The Decision is Simple, but Is It Predetermined? 4 Political Knowledge: What Facts Do Voters Need to Know? 5 Voter Turnout: Institutional Barriers and Group Motivations 6 Polarization: How Bad Is It, and Is It Growing? 7 Exploring Solutions: Policy Answers to a Better Citizenry 8 Conclusion: Renewing American Citizenship
Matthew L. Bergbower is Associate Professor of Political Science at Indiana State University.
This is a valuable book for anyone interested in learning about American public opinion and political behavior. Matthew Bergbower concisely discusses scholarly theories and empirical research on voter turnout, vote choice, political knowledge, and polarization in a way that is inviting and accessible for students and non-experts. After reviewing what we know about the American electorate, the final section of the book presents a helpful series of policy recommendations aimed at enhancing citizens’ political engagement that could serve as a foundation for class discussion and debate.
Patrick Flavin, Baylor University
Unlike much work in this area, this book does not just focus on public opinion or political participation; it focuses on both. Each chapter explains the major theories to help the reader understand why people think and behave the way they do. Including lots of graphs and tables to provide a clear picture of the American electorate, this book is a must for any course that examines voters.
Drew Seib, Murray State University
This book expertly illustrates the changes that have taken place in electoral politics over the past 75 years. Bergbower’s discussions of party identification, voter decision-making, and citizen engagement are accessible for both those inside and outside academia, and offer smart policy recommendations to produce a better informed, tolerant, and active electorate.
Heather Evans, Sam Houston State University
Bergbower offers an expansive analysis of both stability and shifts in electoral behavior in the United States, drawing from rich and varied sources of data to answer questions related to political socialization, partisan identification, political knowledge, turnout, and more. In addressing these themes, Bergbower reflects on the importance of citizen participation in politics and offers insights on fostering engagement. This accessible volume will be of value to students exploring voting and elections, public opinion, and political participation especially.
Philip Habel, University of South Alabama