Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
As the defining institution of democracy, elections have always been a major focus of attention both for political theorists and analysts—and for journalists and practicing politicians. Indeed, it is hard to talk about democracy, either generally or at a national level, without referring to elections. This entry focuses on specialized research, mostly quantitative, into voting at general elections. It thus passes over the interesting and growing literature on direct policy elections (referendums and initiatives) since they are still not a major feature of contemporary democracies except in Switzerland and, at the state level, in the United States. On the other hand, the choices voters make are framed by political parties, so the entry has to consider their activities, particularly as they impinge on voting. While analyses of party organization and campaigning appeared from the latter part of the 19th century onward, the tradition of systematic quantitative studies of voting statistics ...