American politics


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According to Hall (2001), the manner with which judges are elected and re-elected is a controversial issue that demands analysis. In examining the electoral fortunes of incumbent judges of the Supreme Court from 1980-95 in 38 states, court reformers have put forth a case that partisan elections fail to provide evidence of accountability, while non-partisan and retention elections promote independence. The author therefor argues that issue-related or candidate related forces should not be important in partisan elections, and external political conditions should equally not be important in a nonpartisan and retention election. Huber & Gordon (2004), on the other hand argue that, Supreme Court judges wield immense power when it comes to sentencing offenders; nevertheless, because these judges must seek re-elections, the author argues that judges tend to be partial.

Lax & Phillips (2012) examines how responsive the state policy is to public opinion. The authors studied how state translates public opinion into policy and finds that the largest influence on state policies to be legislative professionalism, term limit, and issue salience. The authors equally determined that partisanship and interest groups affect the ideological balance of incongruence. The authors thus concluded that policy is over responsive to ideology and party, which makes state policies to be polarized based on the ideological characteristics of the electorates. Rocha et al. (2010) asserts that the 2008 presidential election was historic because it marked the end to the longstanding gap in the difference between the white voter and black voter turnout. This election thus offered an evidence that majority empowerment affect voter turnout. The authors thus moved beyond dyadic conceptualization of empowerment and argue that African American and Latinos are more likely to vote when living in states with more descriptive representation. According to Lewis (2011), an argument that democracy entails the will of the people is a fallacy. The author argues that democracy may not always translate to protection of the will of the people.


In their article, Lax & Phillips (2012) provides a useful insight on how responsive the state policy is to public opinion. The authors address the various concerns by estimating state-level opinion across a wide range of issues using multilevel regression and post stratification, thus providing more value into the subject matter. In the American public, some of the pertinent issues that the author builds a case on include abortion and education. These issues have been subjects of controversy for decades. Nevertheless, the authors have failed to expound on the controversial nature of abortion and education.

By explaining the details of both abortion and education and highlighting issues that make them controversial, it would be easier for the reader to form a mental opinion on what electorates would think of the issues. In the same approach, by understanding what the electorates think of the issue, it would be easier to relate how ideologies of the electorates impact on the state policy. Moreover, the authors have failed to exhaustively used analytical methods (statistical figures) to determine correlations between public opinion and the implication on state policy. It would have equally been beneficial if the authors were to use more graphs and charts to represent the findings of their study as a way of enhancing the understanding of the study and equally increasing the visual appeal for the readers.

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  1. Daniel C. Lewis. (2011). Bypassing the Representational Filter? Minority Rights Policies under Direct Democracy Institutions in the U.S. States. State Politics & Policy Quarterly 11(2) 198–222.
  2. Gregory A. Huber and Sanford C. Gordon. (2004). Accountability and Coercion: Is Justice Blind When It Runs for Office? American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 247-263 Published by: Midwest Political Science Association.
  3. Jeffrey R. Lax and Justin H. Phillips, (2012). The Democratic Deficit in the States. American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 56, No. 1, pp. 148-166 Published by: Midwest Political Science Association.
  4. Melinda Gann Hall. (2001). State Supreme Courts in American Democracy: Probing the Myths of Judicial Reform. The American Political Science Review, Vol. 95, No. 2, pp. 315-330.
  5. Rene R. Rocha1, Caroline J.Tolbert, Daniel C. Bowen, and Christopher J. Clark. (2010). Race and Turnout: Does Descriptive Representation in State Legislatures Increase Minority Voting? Political Research Quarterly 63(4) 890-907. University of Utah.
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