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To what extent has US voting behaviour changed over the past 25 years and with what impact?

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Introduction

To what extent has US voting behaviour changed over the past 25 years and with what impact? Prior to the 1970s the presidential office had been predominantly occupied by elected Democrats, Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932-52), John F. Kennedy (1960-1963) and Lyndon B Johnson (1963-68). A dominance built primarily upon the loyalty black in the north and whites in the south, as well as intellectuals, labour union members, ethnic minorities, industrial workers and farmers; emanating from the New Deal Coalition introduced in 1930s. This policy secured the support of minorities with a moderate welfare programme including greater federal involvement in economic affairs. Difficulties such as racial prejudice and segregation created friction amongst Democratic voters with conflicting interests between northern blacks and southern whites. Protests for racial equality during the 50s and 60s gained support from the Democrats, President Johnson's package of Great Society measures incorporating unheralded voting rights with the creation of the Voting Rights Act (1965). Furthermore initiatives on various issues such as education, health, employment, housing and welfare convinced blacks to support the Democrats. ...read more.

Middle

The party's emphasis on welfare and public services remain central to the Democrats' ideology. Whilst Republican core voters remain amongst whites, Protestants, middle and upper classes who favour more traditional values concerning defence, low taxation and crime reduction. The growth of the educated, middle-class particularly in the mid-west has strengthened the Republican election prowess, with improved wages the issue of taxation was of greater importance. The prominence of the Christian Right in the party represents a serious dilemma for the Republicans; desperate to retain the support these religious fundamentalists who are notorious for their dependence and ability to mobilise additional voters, whilst ensuring the party does not isolate itself from swing voters. It is accepted that class motivated voting behaviour can dictate American elections. During the 1920s and 30s, the New Deal aided the underprivileged, blacks, ethnic minorities, farmers and industrial workers; this established a direct relationship between class and party allegiance, although it has subsided over the 20th century and is now far less significant. ...read more.

Conclusion

The results also highlighted the southern, Republican heartland, five states remained solid Republican despite the circumstances. The New Deal Coalition has lapsed and Democrats can no longer be guaranteed the blue-collar workers vote; a massive problem for the Democrats. Whites voters in southern states adopt a mainly conservative political stance, opposed to abortion, gay rights and pro-tax cuts. Additionally they heavily support the military, viewing it as a means of employment for the poor and ethnic minorities, as well as voicing strong claims for more effective and expanded missile defences. Mid-west industrial workers in cities such as Michigan and Chicago, middle-class whites represent key battleground for the two parties. Voting behaviour is a subject of huge intrigue and importance in American politics; the two parties spend millions of dollars employing analysts to understand the choices of the electorate. Republican core voters have risen as the average American is wealthier, in contrast the proportion of Democrat core voters has fallen, blacks are richer, better-educated, employed in the big industries and are now inclined to deviate towards the Republicans. However unquestionably the desertion of the Democrats by the white south has been the most significant impact of US politics in recent years. ...read more.

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