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The Social Calculus of Voting: Interpersonal, Media, and Organizational Influences on Presidential Choices

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  • BECK, PAUL ALLEN
  • DALTON, RUSSELL J.
  • GREENE, STEVEN
  • HUCKFELDT, ROBERT

Abstract

Voting choices are a product of both personal attitudes and social contexts, of a personal and a social calculus. Research has illuminated the personal calculus of voting, but the social calculus has received little attention since the 1940s. This study expands our understanding of the social influences on individual choice by examining the relationship of partisan biases in media, organizational, and interpersonal intermediaries to the voting choices of Americans. Its results show that the traditional sources of social influence still dominate: Interpersonal discussion outweighs the media in affecting the vote. Media effects appear to be the product of newspaper editorial pages rather than television or newspaper reporting, which contain so little perceptible bias that they often are misperceived as hostile. Parties and secondary organizations also are influential, but only for less interested voters—who are more affected by social contexts in general. Overall, this study demonstrates that democratic citizens are embedded in social contexts that join with personal traits in shaping their voting decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Beck, Paul Allen & Dalton, Russell J. & Greene, Steven & Huckfeldt, Robert, 2002. "The Social Calculus of Voting: Interpersonal, Media, and Organizational Influences on Presidential Choices," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 96(1), pages 57-73, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:96:y:2002:i:01:p:57-73_00
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    Cited by:

    1. Todd Kendall, 2009. "An empirical analysis of political activity in Hollywood," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 33(1), pages 19-47, February.
    2. Schläpfer, Felix & Schmitt, Marcel & Roschewitz, Anna, 2008. "Competitive politics, simplified heuristics, and preferences for public goods," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 574-589, April.
    3. Ugo Troiano & Giacomo Ponzetto, 2012. "Social Capital, Government Expenditures, and Growth," 2012 Meeting Papers 1048, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Klor, Esteban F. & Shayo, Moses, 2010. "Social identity and preferences over redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(3-4), pages 269-278, April.
    5. Jeremy Clark & Abel François & Olivier Gergaud, 2020. "Electoral Turnout and Social Capital," Working Papers in Economics 20/13, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
    6. Amos Owen Thomas, 2016. "Voter empowerment for emerging democracies: Mobilising the marginalised in Peru," International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing, Springer;International Association of Public and Non-Profit Marketing, vol. 13(3), pages 239-263, October.
    7. Stefan Jonsson & Helena Buhr, 2011. "The Limits of Media Effects: Field Positions and Cultural Change in a Mutual Fund Market," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(2), pages 464-481, April.
    8. Gould, Eric D. & Klor, Esteban F., 2019. "Party hacks and true believers: The effect of party affiliation on political preferences," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 504-524.
    9. Andrea Galeotti & Andrea Mattozzi, 2011. ""Personal Influence": Social Context and Political Competition," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 307-327, February.
    10. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Persuasion in Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 435-439, May.
    11. Braha, Dan & de Aguiar, Marcus A. M., 2018. "Voting contagion: Modeling and analysis of a century of U.S. presidential elections," SocArXiv mzxnr, Center for Open Science.
    12. Bogaçhan Çelen & Kyle Hyndman, 2012. "Social Learning Through Endogenous Information Acquisition: An Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(8), pages 1525-1548, August.
    13. Emre Toros, 2014. "Social Indicators and Voting: The Turkish Case," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 115(3), pages 1011-1029, February.
    14. Andreas Kuhn, 2009. "In the Eye of the Beholder: Subjective Inequality Measures and the Demand for Redistribution," NRN working papers 2009-14, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    15. Caroline Le Pennec & Vincent Pons, 2019. "How do Campaigns Shape Vote Choice? Multi-Country Evidence from 62 Elections and 56 TV Debates," NBER Working Papers 26572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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