Video Exercise

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In Chapter 12, we focused on the many factors that affect voters’ preferences. Social group identities, issue and retrospective evaluations of the economy, and party identification, in particular, influence how voters react to candidates. This means that election outcomes sometimes hinge on the views of independent voters. Take a look at the following video of a CBS News “dial group,” which shows how the news media (and consultants) gain information on how “undecided” Americans view President Obama’s speech on health care.

1.
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What does a group like this tell us about public opinion? What are the limits of groups like this? Do you think candidates can persuade voters with speeches?
2.
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Another theme in Chapter 12 is the debate between political scientists and campaign consultants about how much campaigns matter to elections. The following video is of a long panel discussion of the results of the 2010 elections in California. Unlike most of America, which voted Republican in 2010, California elected a Democratic governor, re-elected a Democratic senator, and returned a Democratic majority to power in its state legislature.



Can a good campaign overcome a substantial partisan disadvantage? If so, how? If not, does this mean that campaigns do not matter?

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