Shifting Power From Majority to Only a Few: Factors & Process

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: The Spread of Democratic Ideals During the Revolutionary War

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 1:08 Voter Participation
  • 2:25 Single-Issue Voters
  • 3:05 Uninformed Citizens
  • 4:02 Nomination of Candidates
  • 5:02 Campaign Expense
  • 6:04 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up


Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amy Troolin

Amy has MA degrees in History, English, and Theology. She has taught college English and religious education classes and currently works as a freelance writer.

In this lesson, we will explore factors that have shifted power from the majority of voters to specific groups. We'll pay special attention to voter participation, single-issue voters, uninformed citizens, the nomination of candidates, and campaign expenses.

A Major Shift

'What is going on in this country?' the political lecturer asks in his booming voice. 'Isn't America supposed to be a democracy? That means that the nation is governed by its people! But is that really the case anymore? Doesn't it seem to you that fewer and fewer people are actually participating in the political process?'

His audience listens with interest. They've noticed that, too. Fewer and fewer of their friends are interested in politics. Most of them don't vote or make an effort to understand the issues. Therefore, more and more political power seems to be ending up in the hands of fewer and fewer people.

The lecturer continues, 'Tonight I'm going to discuss several factors that contribute to this shift in power from the majority of voters to a few specific groups, and you are going to help me.' He calls 24 people up on stage and positions them in a group. They represent the majority of citizens that had once taken an active interest in the political process. These citizens have political power, which is the ability of individuals and groups to create and enforce policies and manage public resources.

Voter Participation

The lecturer jumps right in to a discussion of this first factor: voter participation, which refers to the number of voters who cast a ballot in an election.

'Have you ever noticed that not too many people are voting nowadays?' the lecturer asks. The audience nods. They had just been thinking the very same thing. 'Statistics tell us,' the lecturer continues, 'that in the presidential election years of the last couple decades, only 53% to 63% of eligible voters have turned out to vote. In non-presidential election years, that number hovers around 40% for general elections. The percentage is even lower for primaries. In most states, fewer than 20% of eligible voters actually show up for these.'

The lecturer then lists several reasons for this trend:

  • Lack of interest
  • The dislike of candidates or issues
  • Inconvenience
  • The hassle of registration
  • The perception that voting will not make a difference or that no one cares what voters think anyway
  • The problem of too many elections with too many candidates
  • The impression that the whole process is too negative and too party-driven

'In any case,' he concludes, 'when voters don't vote, the number of people with political power decreases.' He tells four audience members to sit down.

Single-Issue Voters

'Picture this,' the lecturer continues. 'A candidate knows that many of his constituents are focused on a single issue, in this case, the environment. He talks about that issue so much that his opponent must also concentrate on it, citing his own views on the matter.'

The single-issue voters, those who concentrate on just one concern to the exclusion of others, are happy with this arrangement. Other voters feel like their primary interests, perhaps the economy or civil rights, are left out of the conversation. They figure, 'Why vote? Why participate? No one seems to care about my concerns anyway.' The lecturer tells four more people to sit down.

Uninformed Citizens

'At least single-issue voters are informed about the political process,' the lecturer remarks. 'Many citizens are not, and this is a huge problem in America. If people are going to participate in the government, they need to know what's going on. They need to understand the issues and the political process. They need to study the candidates and their positions to make informed choices. But they don't!'

The lecturer cites a recent study in which a group of college seniors scored only an average of 54.2% on an exam that tested basic knowledge of American government. 'These students,' the lecturer explains, 'are supposed to be well-educated citizens, yet they are sorely lacking in their understanding of the political process. People are often so busy with their lives, work, family, and entertainment that political participation ends up very low on their list of priorities. Yet, how can they take control of their political power if they don't know much about it?' He tells four more people to sit down.

Nomination of Candidates

'So far we've been focusing on the voters,' the lecturer says, 'but what about the other side of the coin? Are there some problems in the political process that contribute to the shift in power from the majority to a few? I would answer yes!'

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account