Our analysis offers a different perspective. Although the horse race aspect of this year’s electoral contest is interesting, the preoccupation with partisan details obscures broader, more important aspects of the national policy mood and the health of our political system. In this study, we examine the attitude of Americans toward big government, the declining competitiveness of our elections, and some mistaken conventional wisdom about American democracy.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, across America there exists a measurable popular preference for less, rather than more, government intervention. Therefore, in the fall of 2002, the electorate will favor candidates who support defense spending, civil liberties, and smaller government outside of defense. At the same time, the political system’s health is seriously weakened by a lack of competition. Unfortunately, the mismeasurement of, and preoccupation with, voter participation serves only to divert attention away from the pressing problem of an uncompetitive political system.
An election that either ushers in a new era of expanded government or further cements the advantages of incumbency will serve neither the representative nor democratic functions of our political system.