The Institute for Social Research (ISF) & the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) invite you to a seminar with Paul A. Beck. The seminar will be chaired by Bernt Aardal.
A year ago, evaluations of Bush were so positive that Democratic candidates seemed to have little chance of winning in 2004, which kept some major contenders out of the race. However, most of these issues have become problematic for Bush in early 2004, making the upcoming election seem much more competitive. How problematic these issues continue to be, and which among them emerge(s) as dominant, will probably tell the story of 2004.
The US electorate of the early 2000s is divided into three different groups of about equal size: loyal Democrats, loyal Republicans and non-partisans. Mobilization of partisans to support their party's candidate and persuasion of non-partisans will be the twin foci of party campaigns.
In an electorate with turnout rates only slightly above 50%, the potential for differential mobilization (or de-mobilization) to affect the outcome is considerable. Even more important will be how the campaigns affect non-partisan 'swing' voters. With his advantages in campaign funds through the summer nominating conventions, in Electoral College calculations and in agenda control, Bush begins with a good position with regard to persuading these non-partisans, who - as generally the least attentive voters - are most influenced by the appeals of an incumbent. The battle for these swing voters will turn on evaluations of Bush's performance as president on the key issues of the economy, the war in Iraq, the terrorist threat at home and abroad, taxing and spending, social issues and the budget deficit.
Paul A. Beck is one of the most prominent analysts of electoral behaviour in the United States. He is the author of Party Politics in America, a leading textbook now in its ninth edition. Among his research interests are the question of US campaign financing and competing sources of influence on voter decisions. He directs the US side of the Cross National Election Project and is currently editing a book springing from that project. Beck obtained his PhD in Political Science from the University of Michigan and taught at Pittsburgh and Florida State before moving to Ohio State University, where he has chaired one of the most prominent political science departments in the USA for over 12 years.