The Democrats would have the edge if we assumed party identification was a key factor in determining voter turnout and voter preference.
The Republicans gained control of the House and the Senate in 1994, after the Democrats had dominated both houses from World War II.
In determining the outcome of a presidential election, personality and issues are more important than party.
In many elections, ticket-splitting happened more than straight party line voting.
In 1996, the voters kept the Democratic president and the Republican Congress in office.
Voting patterns peaked in the 1960s during the presidential elections.
You need to be registered in order to vote.
This was an important factor in explaining why voter turnout was low.
The Rainbow Coalition increased minority voter registration.
The Motor Voter Act of 1993 was signed into law by President Clinton.
The law allowed people to register to vote.
Since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, so many new voters have registered.
More than 600,000 people were eligible to vote.
The Republicans made significant gains even though they were concerned that there would be a Democratic imbalance in the new registrants.
Most of the new voters did not vote.
The constitutionality of the law was challenged by California and four other states.
The federal courts did not agree with that contention.
Even though it is easier for people to vote, there has been a downward trend since 1968.
Since 1932, the number of people voting has doubled.
The percentage of eligible voters who voted declined after reaching a high in 1960.
When close to 55 percent of the registered voters turned out, there was a significant increase in the 1992 election.
The voter turnout was below 50 percent in 1996 because of negative voter reaction to the campaign issues raised by President Clinton and Senator Dole.
The percentage went up to over 50 percent in 2000.
There was a record voter turnout in 2004.
There was an increase in voter turnout in the 2008 presidential election.
More than half of eligible voters turned out.
The three elections that took place in the 1960s had the highest presidential turnouts.
National and international events, as well as new legislation that increased voting opportunities for minorities, were probably responsible for the higher numbers.
The percentage of voters dropped after Watergate.
In off-year congressional elections voter turnout is lower.
In the last 40 years, turnout in congressional elections has averaged around 40 percent.
There is a discrepancy between voter participation and the amount of election coverage provided.
Increased use of the mass media and presidential debates should increase voter turnout.
Many eligible voters prefer not to vote because of a decline in party identification and distrust of politicians.
The legal right to vote has changed a lot in the country.
The Constitution only gave franchise to white male property owners.
There are close to 200 million people who are at least 18 years old who can vote.
It has taken a long time for individuals who were held back by such considerations as race, religious background, literacy, ability to pay poll taxes, and property ownership to be given the right to vote.
Increased opportunities to vote are reflected in the history of suffragists.
The voting requirements for religious qualifications were eliminated by the 1800s.
Property considerations were legislated out of existence by most states in the 19th century.
After the Civil War, there was an attempt to franchise the freed race.
The passage of the Fifteenth Amendment was countered by the passage of literacy laws and poll taxes in most Southern states.
The early twentieth century saw the passage of two key amendments, the direct election of senators and the granting of voting rights to women.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965, which eliminated the poll tax, was supported by the passage of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment.
Washington, D.C., voters, as a result of the Twenty-Third Amendment in 1961, and the 18-year-old as a result of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment in 1971, were the final groups to receive the vote.
Even though there was an increase in the potential pool of voters, it was left up to the individual states to regulate specific voting requirements.
Residency, registration procedures, age, and voting times affect the ability of people to vote.
Federal law and Supreme Court decisions have created more consistency in these areas.
The Supreme Court stopped the recount in Bush v Gore after intervening in the Florida recount.
The Supreme Court ruled that there is enough time for residency.
The centralization of voter registration is provided by the Motor Voter Act.
Some states allow 17-year-olds to vote.
The Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970 and the Supreme Court decisions have made literacy tests illegal in every state.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, both increased voting opportunities.
The Civil Rights Act allowed the federal government to enforce the law if it resulted in discrimination.
The Fifteenth Amendment was made a reality thanks to the Voting Rights Act.
In 1970, 1975, and 1982 it was reinforced by other amendments.
The poll tax and literacy requirements were addressed as a result of this act.
The attorney general had the power to determine which states were in violation of the law after the Supreme Court ruled on the legality of the law.
The act made it illegal for states to pass their own restrictive voting laws.
There can be restrictions on a person's right to vote.
People in mental institutions, the homeless, convicted felons, and dishonorably discharged soldiers are not allowed to vote in some states.
Public opinion is formed at a very young age.
Individuals hold opinions about politics and government.
Political scientists think this process is political socialization.
There are parallels between the factors that influence voting patterns and the factors that mold public opinion.
People act on their viewpoints as they grow older.
"Family values" has become an overused phrase but, in fact, is the primary source of political opinions.
When Vice President Dan Quayle made family values an election issue in 1992, there was a debate.
Children internalize what they hear and see in their family unit.
A child with a single parent will have strong attitudes about child support.
Most children will register and vote for the same party as their parents if parents talk about party identification.
The formation of political views can be influenced by schools and the church.
The family unit supports the viewpoint.
The meaning of citizenship is instilled in schools and teachers at an early age.
Children sing the national anthem.
Students will learn how to question the role of government if the educational system is open.
People who are in the public spotlight--whether they are politicians, union officials, successful businessmen and women, spiritual leaders, or your personal doctors, lawyers, or accountants--play an impressive role in shaping public opinion.
People respond to Donald Trump or Lee Iacocca when they talk about government.
People who hold important offices use different techniques to influence the public.
The formation of people's political attitudes is being formed by the mass media.
TV talk shows, interactive technology, and the print media comment on every aspect of our lives.
The average household watches more than seven hours of television a day.
Policymakers truly understand opinion trends to translate public opinion into policy.
This is a difficult part of policymakers.
They rely on polls, letters, and personal input.
The next section will talk about polling techniques.
America's pulse is taken by public opinion polls.
They can be used to predict the outcome of elections.
Poll-taking has become more important in recent years.
Pollsters want to know what the American public thinks.
The results are reported in the media in a number of cases.
The extent to which the public has a consensus on an issue.
Gallup, CNN, and daily newspapers have mastered the art of measuring public opinion using scientific methodology and computer technology.
CNN and other media outlets took daily polls of both likely and eligible voters during the recent presidential campaigns.
The results were different.
The proliferation of daily tracking polls was caused by the increased popularity of the Internet.
One can find as many as a dozen polls broken down nationally and by state, by registered voter, by likely voters, by popular vote, and over a three-day period.
There was conflicting data.
Some websites were able to accurately predict the popular vote and electoral vote margins for Barack Obama.
Public opinion polls have become so sophisticated that they can accurately predict the outcome of an election minutes after the polls close.
The polls can give valuable information on why people voted the way they did.
There is a serious question regarding the prediction of elections using exit polls.
There are attempts to restrict the use of exit polls.
There have been polling mistakes in the past.
The most famous polling error was in 1936 when a magazine mailed out straw ballots to more than 10 million people.
It got back more than 2 million of them and predicted that the incumbent would be defeated.
Roosevelt won the election by a wide margin, carrying every state except Maine and Vermont.
The poll didn't have a valid sample, getting its population from automobile registration lists and telephone numbers.
During a depression, that kind of sample would favor the Republicans.
There was a polling disaster in the 1948 election.
The election was extremely close.
Gallup predicted a Dewey victory in September.
Pollsters were told they would have to continue polling until the last day of the campaign to gauge public opinion accurately.
Most polls have accurately predicted voter trends and have been responsible in how they have been reported.
The 2000 presidential election polling organizations came under fire.
The Voter News Service, a conglomerate of major media organizations pooling their resources to provide exit poll information, gave inaccurate statistics to the networks regarding the results of the Florida vote.
The networks decided to call the election for Gore.
The state remained in the "too close to call" column until George W. Bush was given the state in the early hours of the next morning.
Gore called Bush and conceded the election when it became clear that the real results were so close that a recount of Florida's votes was required.
The networks implemented new procedures for the 2004 election after Voter News Service took responsibility for the poor methodology used.
There are far-reaching consequences of the information superhighway.
Different kinds of media conglomerates form and new technologies are made available as the media tries to quench Americans' thirst for information.
The information superhighway has grown because of this.
There are many different exits in this "thruway" of information.
The internet is one of the major characteristics of the information superhighway.
The public has access to the highway because of the media concentration.
The structure can be seen as a three tier structure.
The three major networks, cable news channels, the national news magazines, and the four national newspapers comprise the inner tier.
USA Today, Chicago Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, and other national newspapers are included in the middle tier.
Local newspapers, television and radio stations are in the outer tier.
There is a concentration of power among major media conglomerates.
The impact of so-called right-wing radio and television commentators, such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and the use of Fox News cannot be underestimated and contributes to what has been characterized as a hyperdemocracy.
New media pathways to the information superhighway have existed in the 1990s.
The tremendous growth of the Internet and relatively new media such as computers, satellites, cable television, direct broadcast satellite services, laser discs, CD-ROM, and other interactive technologies have created a congested information highway.
The political agenda is impacted by the net result.
Every major political candidate had a website in the past.
Candidates use the internet to raise money.
John McCain raised over $1 million in the 2000 election.
Howard Dean set an Internet fund-raising record.
The political landscape has changed because of these sites.
Video sites have had a big impact on voting behavior.
The media has the ability to influence the way the public thinks as the public has more and more access to information.
Having the ability to react immediately to an issue raised by using voice mail enables instant polling.
Barack Obama let his supporters know of his choice of Biden by text and email.
The e-mail and cell phone base was used by the Obama campaign.
The media influences what the public sees as important by selecting the events that are covered.
Political leaders are also covered by this capability.
House and Senate members are encouraged to play to a sophisticated TV audience knowing that they are being broadcast live on C-SPAN.
Saddam Hussein received a lot of his information from CNN during the Gulf War.
The media is blamed for the decline of party politics.
Candidates and office holders use the media to get their message out.
They use trial balloons to test the political waters.
They become "talking heads," with the media focusing on the face of politicians during speeches and talk shows often ending up as sound bites.
The information superhighway is growing in importance, but it may be a double-edged sword.
The less direct control policymakers have on the average citizen, the faster it grows.
Most candidates and presidents feel that the media is unfair in how they cover a campaign or administration.
They try to control and manipulate the media.
Ronald Reagan was able to control media access by planning the event, staying on the offensive, controlling the flow of information, limiting access by the media, and speaking in one voice as an administration.
Clinton was forced to back down when he tried to move the White House press out of their briefing room.
The media is blamed for the type of coverage it provides.