American Democracy Voter Turnout in 1988 American Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

American Democracy

Voter Turnout in 1988 American Presidential Election:

Democracy is for the people and by the people and it can be successful if people participate effectively in electing their representatives. In 1988, presidential elections were held in United States of America. Statistics shows that voter turnout for this presidential election was very low. Voter turnout was as low as 50.1%. In spite of an increasing trend of voter turnouts in the presidential election of 1948 and in the presidential elections of 1960, the voter turn out in 1988 decreased sharply to merely half of the population that are eligible for casting votes. The turnout was below the American presidential elections standard. Most of eligible candidates who did not cast their votes were supporters of Dukakis. If these people had cast their votes the situation would have been different for 1988 elections. It can also be said that 1988 presidential elections results was not the opinion of average people (Franklin, 2004).

1988 Election turnout as compared to other elections turnout:

United States of America is a symbol of democracy to the rest of the world. Citizens of United States participate in these elections in order to express their opinions as to who should be made representative of the people amongst them. Despite of being such an old and big democratic country the American voter turnouts for the presidential election has always been inconsistent. The overall voter turnout for 1988 presidential election was a little less to 1984 presidential elections. The amount of total vote casted in 1988 was 91,602,291 which if compared to 1984 was only a million votes less but as compared to 1984 elections but total voters as compared to 1984 declined by 13 million (Janda, Berry, Goldman, & Hula, 2012).

Previously before 1988 the voter turnout has already started increasing but this time it was all time low. Total registered voters for this year were 126,381,202 out of 182630000 which is 69.20% and the turnout was 91,594,693, which is 50.15%. For the next presidential elections in 1992 these figures increased to 55.23% which is far better then the previous year figure but then again in 1996 voter turnout again reduced by less then half of the population. This shows the inconsistency of voting turnout pattern for the American Elections.

Factors influencing the turnout for the 1988 elections:

The major factor that because of which the voting turnout was low was because of the fact that most of the American citizens preferred not to cast their votes sit back at home and enjoy as a result George Bush who never had an edge over Michael S. Dukakis won. The other factor that also played an important role and affected the turnout was the smart improvisation by George Bush team that made him win this election by attracting and convincing his voters to cast their votes in spite of being a weak contender to the Michael S. Dukakis he managed to win. They economy was rising and showed a stable growth which is a positive sign for any country which may have led people to worry less about casting their votes for presidential elections since all was well. On the other hand, we also see that the Soviet Union was crumbling putting United States of America and its fellow citizen in great peace of mind. Another reason due to which Michael S. Dukakis got less votes then George Bush was because George Bush promised not to put additional taxes, which was appreciated by everyone, and as a result, he won the 1988 presidential elections (Polsby, Wildavsky, & Schier, 2012).

The voting model for 1988 presidential elections:

The voting model for the 1988 American presidential elections seems to be Prospective voting model as in this type of model people decide the fate of the government by selecting the responsible parties. There was no unusual demographics pattern that effected the 1988 presidential elections which shows that people wanted the things to go smoothly as they were going previously.

Demographics pattern for 1988 elections:

When we see the demographics patterns, we see that both the majority of men and women who participated in the elections voted for George Bush. Majority of the votes casted by the Blacks and Hispanic were in favor of Michael S. Dukakis. While majority of the white voters voted for George Bush. Similarly, in all age groups we find that majority of them casted votes to George Bush. People who lie in income groups between less than dollar 12500 to people earning around 25000 dollars, majority of them voted for Michael S. Dukakis while the remaining income groups voted for George Bush. Similarly, majority of the liberal and moderate parties were in favor of Michael S. Dukakis while the conservatives were in favor of George Bush. Majority of the Democrats were in favor of Michael S. Dukakis while Republicans and Independent were in favor of George Bush. Thus, we can say that there was no unusual demographic pattern that played an important role in determining the result of 1988 American presidential elections (Welch, Gruhl, Comer, & Rigdon, 2010).

Total turnout of voters in the year 1996

In the year 1996, an extreme decline was noticed in the voter turnout rate of presidential elections. These turnout rates were falling since the start of 1960 and the most severe fall was recorded in the year 1960. Voting is the basic right of every citizen of the country but unfortunately, 1996 showed that the citizens were no more interested in this right. However, this reaction of the voters was extremely disappointing because during 1960s and 1970s many efforts were made by the government in order to remove those problems, which voters faced in the past. However, these efforts of the government showed no result because in spite of increasing the voter turnout rate it actually decreased with a high margin. In the year 1996, the youngsters of twenty-four years old were only thirty-percent. The voter turnout in this year was only forty -- nine percent, which are 96,277,634.

Comparison of the turnout rate of the year 1996 with the normal turnout rate of the presidential elections

The turnout rate of the 1996 elections was not similar with the normal voter turnouts because as mentioned above a severe decline in the turnout rate 3 was recorded ever. In the twentieth century, this low record was only recorded in the 1920 and 1924. The percentage of the voters in this year was almost negligible. In this year, Bill Clinton defeated a senator of United States, Bob Dole from Kansas (Welch, Gruhl, Comer, & Rigdon, 2010).

There were a number of valid reasons for low voter turnout in the 19th century such as low literacy rate, lack of awareness among people, existence of multiple barriers in the process of voting, registration system and so on. However, in the 20th century, almost all of these problems were removed and a high voter rate was expected in the 20th century but unfortunately the voter rate in some of the years of the 20th century was very low and the year 1996 was one of those years. The reasons for this low voter turnout in this year as described below:

Reasons for the low voter turnout in the year 1996

Since the voter rate shocked everyone, therefore a survey was conducted in order to know the reasons of this low turnout rate. Many people in the survey said that they had a busy life and taking out time from other activities, which are not included in their schedule, was quite difficult for them. Beside this, some of the people gave reasons that they were ill or disabled, some said that the candidate this time was not of their interest therefore they did not vote and some gave family reasons for not voting. In addition to this, some people said that they had transportation problem and some were out of town. The survey also reported that some people did not give any answer of the question and some answered that they do not have any interest in the voting process (Bardes, Shelley, II, & Schmidt, 2012).

The Presidential Elections of 1996 and the voting model

Prospective Voting Model

It is the model in which people vote for the candidate by predicting that how he will perform in the future.

Electoral Competition Model

It is a voting model in which voters vote for the median or the central political candidate.

Retrospective Model

It is a voting model in which the voters look at the former performance of the candidate and then give vote according to the performance in the past.

Based on these voting models, the presidential elections of the year 1996 is an electoral voting model and Bill Clinton was elected in this year (Franklin, 2004).

Influence of Demographic Factors in the Voter turnout Rate of the Year 1996

Demographic factors also play an essential role in the voting system and these factors affected the presidential elections of…

Sources Used in Document:


Bardes, B.A., Shelley, M.C., II, & Schmidt, S.W. (2012). American Government and Politics Today. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Franklin, M.N. (2004). Voter Turnout and the Dynamics of Electoral Competition in Established Democracies Since 1945. Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Janda, K., Berry, J.M., Goldman, J., & Hula, K.W. (2012). The Challenge of Democracy. Australia; Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Polsby, N.W., Wildavsky, A., & Schier, S.E. (2012). Presidential Elections: Strategies and Structures of American Politics. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

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