Sunday, March 06, 2011

Performance vs. ideology

There's a curious juxtaposition between North Carolina politics, where Republicans recently took control of the both legislative houses for the first time in more than a century, to Latin America, where over the past decade or so left-leaning governments are replacing right-leaning ones.  In both cases, the new governments confidently asserted that the voters actively wanted them in particular.  Increasingly, however, it is evident that voters are making their choices based on performance rather than ideology.  Assuming everyone voted based on your ideology can become problematic when performance dips.

From Jack Betts in today's Charlotte Observer:

"The biggest mistake Republicans can make is to believe that voters chose them because of their ideology," he said. "They chose Republicans because they had lost confidence in the Democrats' ability to solve the problems of the day. ... This has not become a Republican state."

And this abstract from Latin American Research Review:

Over the past few years, a burgeoning literature on Latin American politics has developed, focusing on explanations for the renewed success of the left in the region. Building on electoral trends and public opinion analysis, we argue that the region is experiencing the normalization of democratic politics rather than a backlash or a revolution. Furthermore, we believe that electoral support for the left reflects the disenchantment of voters with underperforming right-wing governments. Using a unique data set covering eighteen countries in the region, our statistical analyses demonstrate that retrospective voting provides a powerful explanation of the recent electoral success of the left in Latin America. Thus, the central implication of our argument is that electoral accountability is still the primary mechanism of controlling the executive in the region's young democracies.

María Victoria Murillo, Virginia Oliveros, and Milan Vaishnav, "Electoral Revolution or Democratic Alternation?" Latin American Research Review 45, 3 (2010): 87-114.


Tambopaxi 8:55 AM  

Quite agree.

Most people don't care about ideologies or party lines.

They do care about decent health care, education services, and roads.

Most of all they care about having a job (long term would be nice) and stability for their families such that folks don't have to leave the country (and risk their lives) looking for work.

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