Images of Voting/Visions of Democracy

Images of Voting/Visions of Democracy

Images of Voting/Visions of Democracy

Images of Voting/Visions of Democracy

Excerpt

When the new technology of social science—survey research, statistics, and electronic data processing—was introduced, it "held out great promise that a new level of political knowledge would be created." Applied to the study of voting behavior, survey research promised an instant understanding of the factors determining the outcome of an election, that political history could be based on rich and current data, and that we could begin to understand the role of elections in constitutional democracy. But the tragic truth is that despite the enormous opportunity provided by this technological revolution, the voting "studies have failed to make significant contributions to both democratic theory and political history."

Images of Voting/Visions of Democracy by the late Peter Natchez laments the failure of political science to make this revolution into an opportunity. The book is a lament because there is an element of tragedy in the causes of the failure: historical events confronted the discipline's basic questions in such a way that it lost self-confidence. Before the evil of Nazism confronted the democratic ideal, political science was a science of the possible, an optimistic discipline. Optimism, which is validated by belief in . . .

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