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Political Behavior of the American Electorate

Political Behavior of the American Electorate

Fourteenth Edition

January 2018 | 344 pages | CQ Press

The 2016 elections took place under intense political polarization and uncertain economic conditions, to widely unexpected results. How did Trump pull off his victory?

Political Behavior of the American Electorate, Fourteenth Edition, attempts to answer this question by interpreting data from the most recent American National Election Study to provide a thorough analysis of the 2016 elections and the current American political behavior. Authors Elizabeth Theiss-Morse and Michael Wagner continue the tradition of Flanigan and Zingale to illustrate and document trends in American political behavior with the best longitudinal data available. The authors also put these trends in context by focusing on the major concepts and characteristics that shape Americans’ responses to politics.

In the completely revised Fourteenth Edition, readers will explore get-out-the-vote efforts and the reasons people voted the way they did, as well as the nature and impact of partisanship, news media coverage, and other issues in 2016—all with an eye toward understanding the trends that led up to the historic decision. 

Tables and Figures
Chapter 1. Democratic Beliefs and American Democracy
Trust in Government

Attitudes toward Democracy

What Leads to Democratic Beliefs and Values?

Maintaining a Democracy


Suggested Readings

Internet Resources

Chapter 2. Electoral Context and Strategy
The Fundamentals

The Rules of the Game


The Unexpected

Understanding Fundamentals and Winning Elections


Suggested Readings

Chapter 3. Turnout and Participation in Elections
Turnout in American Elections

Voters and Nonvoters

Institutional Impediments to Turnout

Psychological Motivation, Genetics, and Turnout

Campaign Activity and Mobilization in American Elections

Participation in Campaigns


Suggested Readings

Internet Resources

Chapter 4. Partisanship and Party Change
Party Loyalty

Party Identification

Voting Behavior

Are Independents Apolitical?

Partisans and Electoral Change

Party Systems and Realignments

Are Conditions Right for a Realignment?

Partisan Change

Affective Partisanship

The Future of Parties and Partisanship


Suggested Readings

Chapter 5. Group Characteristics and Social Networks
Primary Groups and Social Networks

Group Identity and Partisanship

Social Cross-Pressures


Suggested Readings

Internet Resources

Chapter 6. Public Opinion and Ideology
The Measurement of Public Opinion

Domestic Economic Issues

Racial Issues

Social Issues

Homeland Security and Terrorism

International Affairs

Nationalism and the 2016 Election

Issues and Partisanship

Political Ideology

Public Opinion and Political Leadership


Suggested Readings

Internet Resources

Chapter 7. Political Communication and the Mass Media
Functions of the News Media

Types of Media and Their Users

Media Bias and Audience Bias

Media Coverage and the Public Agenda

Political Communication and Polarization

Social Media and Contemporary Politics

Political Communication and Attitude Change

Campaigns and Political Communication

Presidential Primary Campaigns



Suggested Readings

Internet Resources

Chapter 8. Vote Choice and Electoral Decisions
Social Characteristics and Presidential Vote Choice

Partisanship and Ideology

Short-Term Forces

Determinants of Vote Choice

The Popular Vote and the Electoral College

Vote Choice in Other Types of Elections

The Meaning of an Election


Suggested Readings

Internet Resources

Appendix: Survey Research Methods
Survey Data Collection

Validity of Survey Questions

Validity versus Continuity


Suggested Readings

Internet Resources


I used this text this semester in addition to Herb Asher's text in a polling and elections course. It is a good text to understand the nature of public opinion, attitudes, and political behavior.

Dr Amy Goodin
Political Science Dept, University Of Oklahoma
September 23, 2020
Key features
  • Up-to-date research from political science and political psychology offers readers an in-depth understanding of the 2016 elections drawing on the most
  • New characteristics of the American people are identified to help readers better understand trends in voter turnout, the loss of trust in government that many citizens have expressed, and changes in voter attachment to political parties, coupled with an increasing polarization of political activists and elites.
  • An examination of the factors that influenced the 2016 election results is put them in context with previous elections and to help readers draw generalizable conclusions about political behavior in the American electorate.
  • A focus on new elements in American politics (such as the rise of social networking in politics) shows readers how these developments might challenge traditional explanations of political behavior.
  • A closer look at the political science election forecasting statistical models and claims of these models being unreliable gets readers to think critically about the veracity of these claims and ask questions. Is the 2016 election an outlier? Was it really that different from other presidential elections? Does it portend significant changes to come in the conduct (and analysis) of American elections?
  • A comprehensive analysis of Clinton and Trump’s campaign ads shows readers how these campaigns differed between the candidates as well as how they differed from past elections. 
  • Numerous new tables and figures bring concepts to life as well as guide readers through the process of interpreting data. 
  • An extraordinarily rich series of studies dating back to 1952 provides readers with a comprehensive understanding of the history of American elections and puts recent trends into contexts.
  • Focused on electoral behavior and voting, this is the only textbook on the market that aims to analyze and illustrate the most recent trends of American political behavior.
  • Several generations of scholars are cited, providing readers with analysis and interpretation from the most respected minds in the field. 

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