Voter’s decision on the choice of a candidate is often influenced by the characteristics of the candidates. These traits can be both personal and demographic to the voter. Some of the notable features include age, gender, racial, academic, political experience, policies, affiliation or party, and interests. The personal and demographic traits featured are some of the factors that determine the decision by a voter on the candidate. If the candidates have the characteristics that are desirable to the voter, they are more likely to win the votes of the population. If they have traits that are considered by the general population as undesirable, they are less likely to win the trust of the voters.
Age Characteristics of Respondents
U.S. elections are largely determined by a combination of both personal and demographic characteristics of both the voter and the candidate. The age of the voter determines how they will vote. If they are young adults, they are more likely to vote for younger candidates while older adults will prefer older candidates (Campbell and Cowley 11). In this case, age is one of the crucial determinants of voting. In the example of the recently concluded presidential elections, the choice of candidate to vote was largely influenced by the age of the voter. Most of the younger Americans preferred President Trump while the older adults chose former vice president Joe Biden (Lau et al. 4). However, due to the slight age difference between the contestants, age was not a significant factor in the choice of the candidate.
Gender is another characteristic that determines both the choice of the candidate and the voter. Historically, election laws have been discriminative against women denying them the right to vote or to be chosen in elections. In the past, American women, especially African American origin, were denied the right to vote (Klofstad 9). In this case, the gender has been disadvantaged; only a few women run as candidates for political seats and even as voters. In the current case, President Trump has been largely accused of discriminating against women during his tenure. In this case, it is less likely that women are going to vote for him as compared to Biden, who has been neutral and is more likely to win votes from both genders. Other genders such as transgender persons depend on their interests, views, and perceptions on a particular contestant. If they think a candidate will advocate for their rights and freedoms, they are likely to elect them. A candidate who has been critical of the transgender concerns would receive fewer votes from the transgender community as compared to candidates who have been supporting them in solving transgender issues or advocating for their rights.
Racial characteristics of the voter also influence their decision on the candidate they vote for in an election. Unfortunately, the U.S. elections have been largely determined by the racial inclination of the voters and the candidates. In the recent presidential race, both American voters of White and African American origin determined who wins the presidential elections as well as those who win in the primaries. Since the first election, the United States voters have been largely divided on race. In this case, a successful candidate will have to obtain the majority of the votes from both races. In most cases, a candidate has to receive votes from both the White and African Americans as well as other minorities. In response, candidates have been forced to choose running mates from the racial groups other than their race. In the case of former president Barack Obama who is an African American, he had to choose a vice president, Joe Biden, who is a White American (Klofstad 5). Similarly, in the recently concluded elections, Joe Biden who was the presidential candidate made a strategic political decision to pick an African American vice president, Kamala Harris, who brought the votes from her race to add on the White American votes that Biden was bringing from his racial background. Due to strict policies introduced on minority groups and immigrants during Trump’s tenure, Hispanic voters were less likely to have voted for him in the recently concluded presidential elections.
Academic characteristics of voters also play a vital role in the voter’s choice of a candidate. In the case of educated voters, their choice of candidate will be made based on the academic qualification of the candidate. A candidate who is more educated than their opponents is likely to be elected by voters who think education is important in occupying political seats. On the contrary, a less enlightened voter is less likely to concentrate on the academic achievements of the candidates, as they do not understand the educational parameters that can be used to gauge the qualifications of a candidate. In Trump vs Biden’s case, Americans with bachelor’s degrees are more likely to vote for Biden and ignore Trump. On the contrary, people with less academic qualifications will relate to Trump’s educational background and are likely to vote for him. However, Biden might receive votes and support from high school and college students who will prefer choosing the Democratic candidate over the Republican.
Connection with Policies Proposed
Policies and interests of the candidate also play a role in the choice of a candidate by voters. A contestant who shares the same interests and views with the voters is more likely to win their vote. On controversial matters such as the LGBTQ community rights or the firearms holding, voters will vote for a candidate who has shown support or interest in the issues (Klofstad 4). Democrats are known for their advocacy against gun rights; they are known for their fight against the distribution of firearms to civilians, as they argue that it is more likely to lead to insecurity. Therefore, individual voters who desire the right to own firearms will most likely vote for a democratic candidate. In this case, it is probable that Joe Biden received votes from pro-gun holding Americans. Besides, voters who know precisely their candidate’s ideologies and what they support and stand for in life will choose to vote for them due to the knowledge of and familiarity with the candidate.
The Influence of Political Experience
Donald Trump’s policy on immigrants has attracted criticism and support in almost equal measures. It has gained him support from White and Native Americans who do not like the entry of immigrants into the country as it disadvantages them as natives. The policy has also invited criticism from immigrants and minority groups in the United States. Regarding political experience, a candidate who has been in politics for a longer period is more likely to win a significant number of votes (Lau et al., 7). However, this also depends on the policies and the candidates’ contributions during their tenures. Furthermore, the political experience of the voters also determines who they will choose for a candidate. Politically experienced voters are more likely to choose candidates with ideal political manifestos and ideologies.
Satisfaction of the Respondent’s Interests
A democratic country is where people are allowed to vote and elect their political leaders and are entitled to various rights and responsibilities. There are three types of democracies; however, the two most common forms are liberal democracy and direct democracy (Lau et al., 18). Liberal democracy is equated to total freedom to vote and be voted for by voters and politicians respectively, where citizens are allowed to vote for a candidate of their choice, and the elections involve an array of political parties. On the contrary, direct democracy is a type of democracy where citizens are guided by rules, institutions, and processes, where they are expected to vote directly on a particular regulation, policy, treaty, or a proposed constitutional amendment to the constitution.
In this case, under liberal democracy, citizens enjoy more rights and freedoms as compared to direct democracy. Under the latter, citizens are guided by laws, regulations, policies, and the constitution in their day-to-day conduct (Carter 3). Although in both cases citizens are required to vote, voting in direct democracy stands to be guided and dictated by the existing laws and regulations in a particular country. Therefore, direct democracy can be termed as partial democracy, where despite citizens having the right to vote and make their decisions, their choices are guided by laws and policies. A country under direct democracy would spell out specific issues or policies that the citizens should vote on. In this case, although direct democracy allows citizens to vote, the voting is in selected issues that are often decided by the government (Reilly 6). In contrast, liberal democracy allows citizens to make sound decisions for themselves without being pressured by laws or policies that require them to vote along a certain line. While a good example of liberal democracy is a general election, where citizens are free to vote for their preferred candidates and political parties, direct democracy can be represented in the form of a constitutional referendum.
In short, democracy is a form of government in which citizens have power over politicians. A democratic country has its citizens either being ruled directly or indirectly. There are two main types of institutionalized democracies, namely direct democracy and liberal democracy. The former is where citizens are allowed to participate in elections either as voters or candidates (Lau et al., 2). A democracy can be either liberal or direct; there is no way it can be both. On the other hand, direct democracy is where citizens elect representatives to public office in order to represent their interests through the passing of laws and bills. However, there are other forms of democracy that are recognized, such as authoritarian, participatory, parliamentary, and social democracies.
A country practicing liberal democracy should respect the fact that its citizens are entitled to their individual rights, for example, the right to vote. A democratic country is also guided by the rule of law, where law and order should be guaranteed by those in authority. There should also be a separation of powers for the democratic process to be effective. A true liberal democracy, therefore, is where the basic principles such as the respect to individual rights, right to vote, the rule of law, and separation of power exist (Campbell and Cowley 2). Most voters would have made their decisions to vote base on their desire to protect the environment. In this case, it is more likely that most voters would decide to vote the current administration out.
Connection with Solving Critical Social Issues
Before the reforms on elections, women and minority groups were not also allowed to vote or occupy a political office. In the present day, although they are allowed to put their names forward as candidates for various political seats, they are still not supported to occupy political seats (Lau et al. 8). Moreover, women’s citizenship rights have been largely curtailed. Some of the restrictions imposed on women rights include being denied the right to vote and participate in any decision-making procedures in public offices. However, today’s voters are educated, and they are aware of their rights. One of the provisions in the United States’ Constitution is that American citizens should be provided with a safe and secure environment to live in.
The 14th amendment advocates for citizenship rights and advocates against racial segregation which brings equality for all. Some of the other civil rights advocated for in the amendment include freedom to vote and be voted for, protection against racial discrimination, and equality for all. Critics of this proposal might argue that both members of the U.S. Congress and the State Legislature are elected by voters, and that they deserve the right to serve regardless of their age as long as they are elected (Reilly 2). However, even the president of the United States undergoes the same process of election by popular vote. Therefore, it is ironic to limit the term limits of the president while in the U.S. Congress there are members who are about 70 years and are still clinging on to their political seats. The process of making decisions in supreme courts is influenced by the law, oral arguments, legal ideologies, briefs and sometimes, political influences. These concepts affect the voting decisions of the eight justices of the Supreme Court.
Voters are entitled to peaceful campaigns and assurance that their votes are secure during elections. High turnout means that the voters are aware of their rights to vote and be involved in policies on elections (Campbell and Cowley 5). Furthermore, the U.S. allows people to vote as long as they meet the qualifications of a voter as set by the Constitution. Since the federal and state governments are guided by the law in the execution of their roles, this limits the chances of dictatorship and makes it a democratic and constitutional monarchy (Reilly 6). Candidates who contested in the elections had to assure Americans that they would deliver them from the economic depression. Therefore, the elections were a turning point in the journey to restore the country from the economic depression. It also was a turning point from politics of popularity to politics of policy. Candidates had to realign their policies to reflect on how they would deliver Americans out of the economic crisis experienced during this period.
Campbell, Rosie, and Phillip Cowley. “What Voters Want: Reactions to Candidate Characteristics in a Survey Experiment.” Wiley Online Library, 2015, Web.
Klofstad, Casey A. “Candidate Voice Pitch Influences Election Outcomes.” Political Psychology, vol. 37, no. 5, 2015, pp. 725–738, Web.
Lau, Richard R., et al. “Measuring Voter Decision Strategies in Political Behavior and Public Opinion Research.” OUP Academic, 2018, Web.
Reilly, Sidney. Design, Meaning and Choice in Direct Democracy. Routledge, 2016.