Location

Sydnor Auditorium

Access Type

Open Access

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Start Date

April 2022

Department

Political Science

Abstract

Perhaps the most important question in American politics asks what motivates a candidate on Election Day? Voter’s decisions affect the direction of our country over the next four years. A long running debate in political science deals with the rationality of voters, concerning itself with the main indicators of vote choice, which include party versus policy. The paper advances these debates to the 21st century, addressing the results from the 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020 general elections using data sets from the ANES Data Center. The data sets were analyzed using a logistic regression to operationalize each explanation.

The results of this regression analysis point to three major factors that impact voter choice, party identification, economic issues, and qualities of a candidate. The data made clear that party identification provided the most powerful explanation around voter choice, with a notable increase in partisan voting from 2008 to the 2020 election. The research also pointed to the fact economic issues were incredibly important to voters, arguing voters who have a negative outlook on the economy typically vote for the out party. The conclusion points to the nuance of vote choice, proving that each factor of voter choice relates to one another.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Meinke

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Apr 6th, 11:45 AM

What’s in a Vote? Voter Choice in the 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020 Presidential Elections

Sydnor Auditorium

Perhaps the most important question in American politics asks what motivates a candidate on Election Day? Voter’s decisions affect the direction of our country over the next four years. A long running debate in political science deals with the rationality of voters, concerning itself with the main indicators of vote choice, which include party versus policy. The paper advances these debates to the 21st century, addressing the results from the 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020 general elections using data sets from the ANES Data Center. The data sets were analyzed using a logistic regression to operationalize each explanation.

The results of this regression analysis point to three major factors that impact voter choice, party identification, economic issues, and qualities of a candidate. The data made clear that party identification provided the most powerful explanation around voter choice, with a notable increase in partisan voting from 2008 to the 2020 election. The research also pointed to the fact economic issues were incredibly important to voters, arguing voters who have a negative outlook on the economy typically vote for the out party. The conclusion points to the nuance of vote choice, proving that each factor of voter choice relates to one another.