Margolis, Michael

Dr. Michael Margolis is Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati. He is co-author of Politics as Usual: The Cyberspace “Revolution” (2000) and author or co-author of books, articles and essays on political parties, elections, public opinion, and modern democracy.

Toward a New Theory of American Electoral Psychology
2006 0-7734-5749-6
This book reexamines the fundamental principles of American electoral psychology. The argument challenges and augments the psychological approach to partisanship and the rational choice approach to voting. It partially confirms theories of retrospective and economic voting, but its analysis of polling data from the American National Election Studies from 1948 through 2000 moves beyond them. The theoretical framework takes in psychological aspects of information processing, personality psychology of Freudianism, humanistic perspectives of psychology, conflicts of interest theories drawn from group psychology, and interest group pluralism in political science. The analysis uses the framework to explain seemingly contradictory phenomena in the behavior and psychology of American voters. The principal findings include: (1) American voters’ recognition of the differences between the major parties and the closeness of the likely outcome of presidential elections is contingent upon the information they receive regarding the degree of political mobilization and the intensity of political competition; (2) American voters’ judgments of presidential personalities tend toward duality; they use separate standards to assess natural and acquired traits as opposed to those traits they perceive as political; and (3) American voters behave differently in presidential elections from how they behave in other group conflicts. They use three benchmark fields when making their choice for President: economic prosperity, group compatibility and national security. These form three vulnerable points in the psychology of the electorate. The analysis demonstrates that the results of American presidential elections can be predicted largely by the voters’ perceptions of the presidential candidates and their parties in terms of the economy, group relations and national security.