Political Theory Notes

The first article, “Electoral-politics and strategic Voting in State Supreme Courts,” by Melinda Gann, has the theory that states supreme court justices vote strategically, especially in controversial issues, in order to appease their constituencies, in order to reelected - Political Theory Notes introduction. Even if the issue voted on contrasts their own personal beliefs, the justices will vote with the majority, especially closer to elections, due to electoral pressure.

The data relevant to this theory draws from characteristics of justices, as well as the decisions rendered, in Texas, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Kentucky, in the case of the death penalty. These states were chosen due to the variation in their electoral system. In order to determine a voting pattern for each justice, whether liberal or conservative, data was gathered from different criminal cases across a full term of that particular justice. This article is quantitate in nature, and gives us clear, empirical data on how the electoral process effects how justices vote.

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However, as pointed out in the article, the data is limited to very specific states and justices, so further research will be needed to fully flesh out the given theory, such as how elections themselves, not just topics voted upon, effect the justices. The second article, “Conceptual models and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” by Graham Allison, theorizes that analysis use a “conceptual lens” when viewing and analyzing a situation. This lens is how the analysis determines what is important, what assumptions can be made, and how government behavior can be categorized.

The article uses the Cuban Missile Crisis as its data, in particular on how the crisis has been analyzed. The data in this case are the different conceptual models, such as the Rational Policy Model, the Organizational Process model, and a Bureaucratic Politics Model. The strong point for this model is that analyzing different models, and how they can be applied to future foreign policy is a valuable skill when analyzing a situation, as well as being aware of the biases in your own conceptual lens.

However, this article relies entirely on qualitative data, and cannot produce the testable results that empirical data can. The two articles fundamentally differ in their approach to a given model. The article by Melinda Gann seeks to use empirical data to explain a political phenomenon. The model in this article is testable with data. The second article, written by Graham Allison, seeks to analyze and break down models into their approach and concepts on a given issue, which is in this case the Cuban Missile Crisis. This article focuses on the qualitative data of different approaches to analyzing a situation.

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