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Evidence That Supports and Contradicts the Claim That the United States is a Democracy, Similarities

Defining Democracy and Examining Evidence for and Against the Claim That the United States is a Democracy

While there are many different definitions of the term “democracy,” most of them include some reference to "the people" (meaning average citizens rather than political elites) being able to control their government by choosing leaders who will represent the people's preferences and values. Many definitions of democracy will claim that “free and fair elections" are the expected way to achieve this result. Thus, we might say democracy is "a political system in which the people are able to control their government by choosing leaders -- through free and fair elections who will create policies that represent the people's preferences and values." technically describing what is usually called "representative democracy," and it isn't quite how your textbook defines the term "democracy," but, for the purpose of this question, you should rely ONLY on this definition and not attempt to define the term some other way There’s been a lot of debate in the past few decades about whether or not the United States should really be considered a democracy. Reasonable people can (and do) disagree about whether the U.S. meets the requirements outlined above. Focusing solely on the material presented in this course (and not your personal opinions or information you may have learned outside the course), what evidence supports the idea that the United States is a democratic nation, and what evidence supports the idea that the United States is not a democratic nation? the question isn't asking you to decide if the U.S. is or isn't a democracy. It's only asking you to discuss the evidence supporting each side of the debate. You may say which side you 
think has the stronger case, but that's not what you're being graded on.

The textbook includes a lot of information about the 2016 presidential election. Aside from various discussions about Trump and Clinton, their campaigns, and the election itself, the book includes a lot of information that could be useful in understanding what happened in that election. (For example, many of the tables and figures throughout the book are either focused on 2016 or include data from 2016, and many of those tables and figures could be useful in understanding the election results even if they weren't specifically intended for that purpose.) You’ve also been asked to read about the 2020 election, and your instructor has talked about that election in class more than once. Taking all of this into account, discuss three of the most important similarities and three of the most important differences between the 2016 presidential election and the 2020 presidential election.
A couple of things to consider before you respond: First, there's essentially an infinite number of similarities and differences between any two presidential elections, and reasonable people certainly might disagree as to which of them are "important." Part of the challenge in answering this question is figuring out which similarities and which differences should definitely be considered "important." For example, Trump's vote  total in Ohio changed from 2016 to 2020, so that would be one difference between the two elections, but it's not an important difference in the grand scheme of things. He won Ohio in both elections, and even if he had lost Ohio in 2016, he still would have won the election. So, the fact that his vote total in Ohio wasn't identical in 2016 and 2020 is quite trivial compared to other differences between those two elections. That should NOT be the sort of thing you discuss.However, on the other hand, you won’t get any credit for talking about things that would be obvious to almost everyone who pays even the slightest attention to politics -- such as the fact that Trump ran in both races, Trump won in 2016 but lost in 2020, Clinton ran in 2016 but not in 
2020, etc. Those are important facts, obviously, but I won't be impressed if you point them out, because they're common knowledge even among people who have never taken a course on voters and elections. Instead, you should focus on important similarities and differences that might not be obvious to people who haven’t taken this class.

Most political scientists who predicted the outcome of the 2016 presidential election were relatively certain Clinton would win. They were obviously wrong. Unfortunately, it isn’t unusual for political scientists to make incorrect predictions about election outcomes, and many of them (including your instructor) generally try to avoid making predictions altogether. In fact, a political scientist named Jacqueline Stevens wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times in 2012 with the headline “Political Scientists Are Lousy Forecasters.” In her essay, she writes: “It’s an open secret in my discipline: in terms of accurate political predictions … my colleagues have failed spectacularly and wasted colossal amounts of time and money.” While she wasn’t specifically complaining about incorrect election predictions, her criticisms would seem to apply to those kinds of predictions -- especially given what happened in 2016. Despite decades of collecting and analyzing voting data, political scientists are still having trouble with election forecasts. Sometimes, as in 2016, they predict the wrong winner, but even when they correctly predict the winner, as most did in 2020, they may overestimate or underestimate the margin of victory by a significant amount. (For example, many political scientists predicted Biden would have a much easier time winning in 2020 than he actually did. The races he won in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona turned out to be much closer than a lot of political scientists expected them to be, and a lot of them expected he'd win a few more states than he didConsidering all the research that has been conducted on topics such as public opinion and voting behavior, why is it still so difficult for political scientists to accurately predict election outcomes in the United States?

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