University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


This research provides an explanation of the impact that high-profile issues can have on local nonpartisan elections. The tree ordinance in Fayetteville sparked a controversy that ignited the community's interest in the race for Mayor. This controversy provides a unique opportunity to measure how issue voting effects elections that have limited information available. The research regarding behavior in local nonpartisan elections is incomplete, because of the challenges this subject provides for political scientist. It is difficult to gauge a voter's choice when the voter's process limited knowledge of the candidates and party affiliation is removed. Generally political scientist view issue voting as requiring a high level of voter sophistication, yet voting behavior at the local level is notable for its lack of sophistication. The purpose of my research is to show that when limited tangible information is available to voters they will base their votes on "easy-issues" such as the tree controversy. This research contributes to theories in the fields of voting behavior, voter sophistication, and issue voting.