British and Irish Elections
Uploaded by dylanb98 on Oct 31, 2011
This paper examines the influence of the media, and opinion polls, on elections.
What determines who wins elections? Do the candidates who espouse the clearest policies win? Or do the candidates win when they resonate with the voters? Do they address serious issues, or are elections becoming popularity contests? It seems to many observers that elections are won by those who look good and sound good, whether or not they have coherent policies in mind.
This paper briefly examines the recent elections in Britain and Ireland, and whether or not it is true that the media, and opinion polls, were major factors in determining the outcome.
II The Disconnect
One of the most disturbing trends in the United States is the fact that increasingly large numbers of qualified voters don’t bother to go to the polls. My research indicates—to my surprise, I must admit—that this is occurring in the U.K. as well. It seems to be a function of the same kind of “disconnect” that we experience: the idea that one vote does not make a difference, and that the ordinary citizen can no longer influence his government.
III Elections, Polls and Apathy
It’s difficult to know where to look to ascribe blame for the lack of interest in the political process. One source suggests that voter apathy actually arises out of a sense, not that things are bad, but that they’re good. When the economy is strong, people have jobs, and there is a sense of well being, voters are unlikely to look for a change. They want things to continue as they are.
In the June 2001 elections in Britain, Tony Blair was re-elected by a landslide. It seems that his re-election had less to do with his policies than with the fact that there was nothing much offered in opposition to him. CBS news correspondent Kimberly Dozier offered an analysis of Blair’s success by first pointing to his failures, and to the uncertainty that surrounds any political process today. At the time of the election, Blair had left many of his election promises unfulfilled. School systems weren’t good; crime was up; and one of his advisers had to resign amid a scandal. Gas taxes were so high that a gallon of gas cost twice what it does in the U.S. But still Blair led...