How does the United States' voting turnout compare to the rest of the industrialized world?
The United States has significantly lower voting turnout than other industrialized nations in the west. This is partly because we have no repercussions for those who choose not to vote; they are free to stay out of politics if they choose. In other countries, there are fines and other penalties for not voting, so they get around 90% turnout, whereas even in presidential elections the United States only sees 50-60%.
What are some institutional barriers to voting?
In the past, institutional barriers to voting were linked to gender and race separation. Until the 15th and 19th amendments were passed, only white males could vote. Even after that, literacy tests prevented the whole eligible population from voting in certain states. Nowadays, the barriers are more class related. Lower class citizens who can't afford a car may not bother to get a drivers license, and are therefore prevented from voting because they lack photo identification. Additionally, some people are burned out by the constant barrage of campaigns and elections and choose to ignore them completely.
How can elections alter the voting patterns of the electorate?
The coattail effect is one way voting patterns can change due to a certain election. If an extremely popular candidate from one party wins the presidential office, lower office candidates can "ride their coattails" into a victory. An example of this is Ronald Reagan. Realigning elections can also bring people from one party to another, such as when FDR introduced the New Deal during the Great Depression and many people who hadn't previously voted Democrat stood behind his plan.
Give a historical example of a demographic switching party affiliation
African Americans historically supported the Republican party because Abe Lincoln was a Republican. However, that trend changed during the Civil Rights Movement. When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many African Americans switched to the Democratic party because it supported them in their fight for equality.
Why are educated white people the most likely to vote?
Educated people are the ones who understand the political process and issues on the table during elections, so they are more likely to participate than others. Additionally, white people have had the right to vote from the start, and they most likely feel the most at ease with it because they've never had that right denied to them. Our candidates are also primarily white so I feel like white people might relate to them more and support them more because of that.
What are the most hands-on, direct ways someone can participate in politics?
Campaigning for a candidate and donating money are the most direct ways a person can be involved. For example, a Republican in California does not have a chance of affecting the presidential election with their vote, because the state is overwhelmingly Democratic. However, they could donate money to a candidate of their choice, and still make their voice heard by helping that candidate campaign in places where they could actually win votes.
Other questions -
Is Donald Trump's involvement in this election causing many Republicans to switch parties?
Does the amount of money a candidate spends on campaigning have a consistent positive correlation winning? (aka if you spend more money/have more money donated do you win)