The research of Lawrence Baum deals with the relationship between the quantity of information that voters possess and their party voting behavior in partisan election. The paper aims to discern whether there is either a strong or a weak relationship between voters and the knowledge on the candidates of parties involve in the election. The paper explored the relationship in non-partisan elections contested by candidates from opposing parties.
Past studies regarding this relationship has produced mixed and confusing empirical results that motivated the author to conduct his own study to further explore and analyze the topic. (Baum, 1987) In political science, the structure and functions of politics in a society are greatly scrutinized and evaluated. This is not meant just to enrich knowledge, but rather to provide society with enough critical evaluations on how they should treat and consider politics in their life.
The issue is crucial as it involves the practice of voting which is considered as one of the freedom people living in a democratic is entitled to. Thus, the study is relevant in cultivating the understanding in political science which concerns the nature of politics in society and society itself. Through the effort of the author to bring light into the topic, he analyzed a survey done on two contestants in the 1984 election for Ohio supreme court and compared it with the presidential election also during that year.
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The findings of the study show that despite the highly partisan campaign, part defections by voters were far more common in Supreme Court races than in the presidential race. (Baum, 1987) This reflects the importance of party affiliations of the candidates as the voter’s source of information about the candidates, which will definitely determine their choice during the elections. Another notable finding of the paper is that different levels of voters information, at the individual level, has differing effects in two supreme court races for the Democratic and Republican voters.
Through this finding, the author suggests that the impact of the information levels on the voters’ choice is a reflection by the information contained in the candidates’ campaigns. (Baum, 1987) But the author failed to mention the correlation between voter’s information about the parties involved in the elections and the result of the elections. What I noticed in the researched was that it also failed to show the true relationship that undermines the effect of information on the voter’s choice, and whether the popularity of a particular party makes the difference in casting an individual vote.
The author notes that the research findings should be critically evaluated and interpreted based on two respects: first is that the individual level findings was based to what is believed to be only moderate good surrogates of voter’s information thus not implying a concrete viable measure of the information itself, and the second being that the Ohio Supreme Court race is far different from the typical nonpartisan races in the country. (Baum, 1987)
The analysis of the research had only contributed by attesting to the logic made by previous research, agreeing or disagreeing to some of the conclusions past research had made and was not able to discern the concrete findings to which we can understand better what the relationship of information on the parties to the candidates, and also in the outcome of the elections. The author admits that the study was not able to settle the issue, rather have suggested only the relationship that is based on a complex and highly conditional situation.
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With that, the research has contributed only a partial explanation and findings that what was expected from it. Although the study answered the research question directly, it failed to deliver the aspects which concerns to the findings. The paper evaluated the problem by analyzing the issues that surrounds the partisan election during the 1984 Ohio Supreme Court elections. The author analyzed the individual level survey done by Ohio State University Department of Political Science.
The telephone interviews of 500 adults in Ohio were done through questions that relate voter’s information of the parties and their choices of the candidates. The research method through the survey was not able to reach the individual level of perspective of the interviewees, but as the author states, provided logical background on the perception of the voters. This in turn was proven by the author as a means that moderately touched the individual perspective and does not reflect the core of the relationship between information of the party and voter’s choice.
The research only relied on second hand information provided by only one notable institution. Given the exploration of the research aspect in political science, I deem that this method used by Baum was not enough and sufficient to analyze the said complexities of the relationship between party information and voter’s choice. But the author should be credited for his thorough discussion of the issues surrounding his research method. In this way, he was able to prove that the complexity of the subject must be dealt with an on-going process of research and analysis rather than claiming that he has the answer.
As mentioned earlier, political science is a pursuit to understand the complexities of politics and its function in the society. It is an undergoing process to accumulate much and further enrichment of knowledge based on the realm of politics and our everyday living. It is substantial; after all, the author had concluded significantly that the relationship is there, although the complexities and challenges in resolving the issues are evident. The research was intended to explore the issue, not just give the answer to the problem right away.
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The research was able to do this effectively and the author is humble and honest enough to relate all the things that should be rethought, re-evaluated and analyzed by the reader. One of the roles political science has is to inform and educate society of the complexities of politics, and how the function of politics in society will affect the way they live, think and behave. The research accomplished the goal of educating and exploring further the realm of politics which is known in the society.
But further challenging the generation of political scientist, observant, and the society in general to further study the matter and contribute to the increasing knowledge in the area of political science. To this, people are learned, cultured, and are equipped with the knowledge on how to view politics in society so they can make informed and wise choices. Reference: Baum, L. (1987).
Information and Party Voting in “Semipartisan” Judicial Elections. Poltical Behavior, 9(1), 62-74.