Socioeconomic Factors that Shape America’s Voting Patterns
Some factors shape America’s voting patterns in elections. Socioeconomic factors such as education and occupation influences who votes and who does not. Individuals from the lower social class have fewer stakes in the government. Their interests do not depend much on public assistance. As low income earners, individuals are not significantly affected by whether a government changes or not (Birnbaum, 2009).They have therefore demonstrated poor voter turn outs and preference to vote. On the other hand, voter’s from the higher social cadre are more educated and better off financially. This group greatly depends on the government policies to operate businesses and get elite jobs. For that reason, they tend to turn out more to vote as they view voting as the best chance of having their views represented in government.
One of the most outstanding socioeconomic factors that influences voting trends is education. Educated persons most likely vote. Studies indicate that when other factors such as political affiliation and class are kept constant, the educated individuals most likely participates in voting during an election. Education empowers people with background knowledge of how the political systems work. They are therefore able to link voting with socioeconomic realities that the political class subjects their lives. In addition, educated people acquire skills that allow them to understand national economic and political trends through the media. This informs the reason why educated individuals always have an opinion on political issues. In fact, the readers of the most popular political blog; Huffington Post are a majority of well-educated people. Statistics from “The Political Quarterly” indicate that in the 2008 presidential election, eighty-two percent of individuals who voted were from graduate school (Birnbaum, 2009).
Income also determines people who vote independently. It affects whether or not individuals vote. Wealthier individuals are most likely to vote. Income overrides education as a factor that determines who votes. Regardless of the level of education wealthy individuals vote. Wealthier people often tend to vote and participate in political activities. Morgenstern’s study on Patterns of legislative politics, shows that wealthy people have access to the resources that are controlled by the influential political contacts.
Some other factors that determine the individuals who vote include Age, gender, and religious conviction. Political participation significantly differs by age. People are politically active between the ages of 35 and 65. Historically, younger people are less likely to participate in voting because they lack money and time to participate. Nevertheless, the voting trend for youth vote has risen. According to the Morgenstern’s “Patterns of legislative politics” on voting in the United States, voter turnout for persons between the age of 18 to 24-year rose from 36 percent in 2000, to 51 percent in 2008. This can be attributed to new technology in the internet’s social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter have made it easier for politicians to reach the youth with their campaign messages (Morgenstern, 2004).
Social stratification refers to a ranking of people into categories depending on political affiliation, power, and socioeconomic status. It is this differences that forms the basis of social stratification. The concept of social stratification is based on the principles that stratification is a reflection of individual differences and the core of society’s trait. Stratification happens everywhere and involves beliefs as well society’s philosophy. Social stratification does not only apply to society in the modern context. Even the in the most primitive know society, there is some form of social stratification (Arlington, 2009). Therefore, achieving a society with equality could as well be termed as a myth that never lacks bearing on human history. Differentiation of individuals into hierarchies of imposed classes in given population is inevitable. The basis of social stratification is an unequal distribution of resources, freedoms and rights and social values. It involves the unequal distribution of rights and privileges to society.
On the other hand, conflict theories by Karl Marx claim that society is made of two major social groups. The ruling class is the dominant group that exploits ruling the subject. Marx asserts that the western society was developed based on this theory that supports the idea of communism and feudal society. The theory provides for the division of society into classless. The two major classes in society. Societies is divided into two major classes; the master and the slaves. This in the ancient society were represented by lords, and serfs in feudal society. Weber says that class in economic terms of master and slaves supports the ideas of waged labor in a capitalist society.
Karl Marx’s conflict theory presents four main epochs that he believes were the basis upon which the western society developed. They include communism and capitalist society. He presents communism as one that is represented by a classless a pre-historic society. The division of society into major classes only develops in market economies where individuals compete to gain economically. Karl defines the division of classes as groups of individuals sharing a common level in the market economy. From Karl’s model class situation is in its basic form a market situation. Subsequently, all those who share a common level at the class situation, share almost the same chances in life. It is therefore sufficient to state that Karl’s theory puts individuals that have equal opportunities of obtaining desirable items in society, in a similar economic position. This resonates with Weber’s argument that class division dictates who controls the forces of production such as labor (Marx, 2013). Conflict theory by Marx offers a more elaborate approach to understanding the origin and nature of stratification.
Birnbaum, N. (2009). The Presidential Election of 2008*. The Political Quarterly, 79(3), 344-353.
Arlington Va. (2009). 2008 Post-Election Voting Survey of Department of State Voting Assistance Officers: Tabulation of Responses. Hess, A. (2013). Epilogue: The Semantics of Social Stratification. Concepts of Social Stratification, 168-174.
Marx, K. (2013). Conflict theory. Aalborg: DIR.
Morgenstern, S. (2004). Patterns of legislative politics: roll call voting in the United States and Latin Americas southern cone. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.