From "The Trouble With Elections: Why Everything We Thought We Knew About Democracy is Wrong," Chapter 2.2
One of the purest forms of “throw the bums out” voter behavior is recall elections. They are especially used in local politics to silence elected officials who question status quo power on behalf of regular citizens they represent.
Recalls, and the headlines they garner, also have a chilling effect on citizens considering running for office.
Even when recalls don’t garner enough signatures to make it to ballot or fail at ballot, they accomplish their goal of tainting the reputation of their object: the elected official, who is typically a minor local civic servant (often an unpaid volunteer in the case of school board members, who are classic subjects of recalls).
Recalls are another example of why many people consider politics a dirty business -- and understandably don’t subject themselves to running for any kind of office. They thus leave the field more open to candidates who will financially benefit--directly or indirectly --by being elected to a particular position.
On the idea that voters are idiots, I think you don’t give enough space to voters’ tribal fealty. Or maybe you do and I didn’t see it. In addition, voters tend to vote against one candidate more than for the other. I think the voters understand the issues. It’s just that the candidates either ignore them, or promise one thing and deliver something else (usually nothing). I don’t think economic condition has much to do with it, but maybe that’s just my own observation.
“Political science research has proved beyond any doubt that vanishingly few voters have a good grasp of the vast array of policy issues, have been able to monitor the incumbents’ performance on these countless issues, understand the proposals of the incumbents’ competitors, or have even formed opinions one way or the other on which policies would be better. The one thing voters presumably can evaluate is whether their personal circumstances, or their community’s, has recently gotten better or worse.”
This sentence seems to have a few possible errors. First, after “vast array of policy issues,” there seems to be an obvious extra space (nitpicky I know). Then the discussion about “incumbents’ performance, competitors..” I’m not sure that the plural possessive goes there, or if the objects should be singular or plural. Sounds kind of weird all ways. Finally, “their personal circumstances, or their community’s, has recently…” maybe doesn’t match plural subject (circumstances) with singular verb (has).