The Reasoning Voter, By Samuel L. Popkin

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Introduction In a democratic society, it is expected of citizens to be knowledgeable of political affairs in order to make an educated decision with regards to its leaders. American citizens are no exception to this expectation. However, there are concerns regarding whether or not American citizens can handle this job. There are those that would defend American citizens, arguing that the average American receives sufficient information in their daily life to cast a rationally thought out vote. However, this argument gives the American citizen the benefit of the doubt. The reality is that the average American citizen lacks the necessary information and motivation to successfully fulfil their jobs as citizens in a democracy.
Literature Review Samuel L. Popkin’s book, The Reasoning Voter, argues on behalf of the average American citizen. Popkin believes that sufficient information is provided through conversation and the common daily activities of Americans. This information is then used to make a decision about voting. Furthermore, this decision, Popkin argues, is to be considered as an investment made with the expectation of a long-term payoff (Popkin 10).
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Popkin cites Anthony Downs’ book, An Economic Theory of Democracy, what making the case that voters’ decisions stem from the knowledge they have gained through information shortcuts. These information shortcuts allow voters, many of which lack the motivation to research purely for voting purposes, to better shape their vote through straightforward and concise means (Popkin 13). Popkin’s discussion in regards to the sources of political information voters use sheds light on some of these information shortcuts, as well as how one’s daily life can provide sufficient

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