The Affect Effect: Dynamics of Emotion in Political Thinking and Behavior

By W. Russell Neuman; George E. Marcus et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
The Third Way: The Theory of Affective
Intelligence and American Democracy

MICHAEL MACKUEN, GEORGE E. MARCUS, W. RUSSELL NEUMAN, AND LUKE KEELE

In the late 1940s and early 1950s political scientists began to make use of large national surveys to develop empirical theories of American political behavior and political judgment. From scholars at Columbia University and the University of Michigan came what has come to be called the psychological model: a now well-known and widely accepted portrait describing public ignorance of the major candidates and where they stood with respect to the predominant issues of the day. Moreover, the psychological model advanced the claim that partisan voting decisions were derived from a robust reliance on partisanship, whereas the voting decisions of independents resulted from responsiveness to “short-term” forces (hence the colloquial name “swing voters”).1 The psychological model, more commonly called the “normal vote” model, best articulated in The American Voter (Campbell et al. 1960), has often been taken as challenge to democracy. And although there have been many attempts to recast these findings in a more positive light (Achen 1975; Key and Cummings 1966; Mueller 1999; Page and Shapiro 1992; Stimson 2004), the challenge to the competence of the voters remains unchecked.

Another account of voting, that of rational choice, arrived shortly afterward from yet another sister social science, economics. In its initial formulation, rational choice held that voters engaged in a rational consideration of the alternatives presented to them, choosing that which best

1. Short-term forces are good times or bad, such as a good economy or a bad one, war or
peace, scandals or their absence, a particularly good or bad candidate or campaign—and,
of course, a very large part of the adult population not sufficiently interested to participate,
no matter what the situation, a fact that is of considerable concern and attention (Burn-
ham 1980; Ladd 1978; Schattschneider 1960).

-124-

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