Elite Driven Based Versus Mass-Based Theories of Explanations

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There has been a long debate on the advocating for elite driven based versus mass-based theories of explanations. This debate emerges when discussing political parties. This difference has manifested itself in the discussion of ideological space and the positioning of parties in that space. The question that emerges is whether the elites or masses are driving the issue emergence and ideological location of specific parties.
When setting the ideological agenda, issues emerge which then set the agenda and change where parties place themselves. Carmines and Stimson and Budge and Farlie research the ideological realignment based on issue emergence. Elites drive issue emergence and then work to own the issue. If the issue emerges in other elite driven party, even in niche parties, all parties will strive to own this issue. Change comes from elites changing something about their party, whether in ownership or based on polarization, critical elections, secular realignment, and dynamic evolution. All of these starts with the elites and the masses follow suite. However, with the issue positions and party location the masses are the dominant actor in this process. Once the issues emerge from the elites, the masses find their ideological stance in which parties move to gather the most votes.
Carmines and Stimson look at when parties have ideological realignment based on issue emergence. They believe that elites drive issue emergence. They have four theories of when realignment occurs. One is impulse decay. Impulse decay is when issue attitudes of the party group over time increase in polarization (Carmines and Stimson 137). This is salience vs. position. The second is a critical election. A critical election is when an election such as FD...

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...d MacDonald model, the issue has to be decided and thought about for every issue and then the voter can make a decision for which party or candidate to vote for (Downs 120). This decision will be based on direction and intensity the voter feels. The elites go to where the masses are, therefore the masses are controlling party and issue location, even if it is subconsciously.
Elites control issue emergence but the masses are the main force in party issue position or location. The elites choose, to an extent, what issues are salient and important but the masses choose where the parties will fall because the masses demographics and where they fall on the left-right spectrum will determine where the elites will place their party. The elites will place their party based on the Downsian model in which the elites only goal is to win elections; power, prestige, and money.

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