The Decrease In Voter Turnout Essay

1441 words - 6 pages

The United States presidential election of 2012 was the 57th presidential election. The election was held on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. The Democratic political leader was the incumbent President Barack Obama, and his candidate was vice President Joe Biden. Throughout this election the proportion of eligible voters who cast ballots shows that the rate was lower than in the past two presidential elections. Voter turnout decreased from 62.3 percent of eligible citizens voting in 2008 to an estimated 57.5 in 2012. The above calculation was also below the 60.4 percent in 2004 election, however above the 54.2 percent turnout in the 2000 election. Despite a rise of over eight million voters within the fitted population, turnout dropped from 131 million voters in 2008 to an estimated 126 million voters in 2012. When all ballots were computed, some 93 million eligible voters didn’t vote. There must be some contributing factors to see why there's a decline in voters’ turnout.
To examine this decline in voter turnout we must consider several factors. One of those factors is that there is no political efficacy. Political efficacy means that people are less likely to vote if they don't believe that their vote will be counted, or if they don't trust the government. Little faith in the electoral process leads to a conviction that a person's vote doesn't really matter. Citizens show lack of interest in politics because they have limited information about the government. The percentage of Americans who say they have “trust and confidence” in the presidency and Congress has decreased in the past decades. Americans’ Trust in government was 70% in 1960s, and then decreased to 40% in 1980s. A recent survey from Pew Research Center showed that “Only 22 percent of Americans say they trust the government ‘just about always’ or ‘most of the time.” Pew also mentioned "fewer than 20% of Americans were in approval of congress.” The government should be held accountable for not including the public in governmental affairs, and because of this detachment the public has insufficient political knowledge.
Why do Americans have limited amount of political knowledge? It’s because the public lacks interest in politics. They rely on group/party loyalty, rather than reasoning. Their responses change randomly from survey to survey. Recent research shows that the public knows some basic things. For example, they know the location of the capital and the length of president’s term, but they lack knowledge about other basic things. About 50% know there are 2 senators for each state, and only 66% know which party controls the House. They show high instability of their preferences, so explosion of information sources has not helped. The authors Greenburg and Page believe that political “trivia” may not be a good measure of adequate knowledge. They also mentioned that the reason for the instability of preference is because people change their minds and reflect on multidimensional ideology....

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