Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Donna Hoffman, Honors Thesis Advisor


According to the political scientist Dr. Daniel J. Elazar, political culture is “the particular pattern of orientation to political action in which each political system is embedded” (Elazar 1984, 84-85). Essentially, he applies the national political culture and magnifies it until he is able to determine the contours of political subcultures at the state level. In order to properly function in a federal system, the United States government is reliant on a system of cooperation between each individual state, as well as the national government. Every state responds to this cooperation differently, which is what allows for noticeable differences in interactions with the federal government. Another area with such variables is the political system developed by each state over the course of their history. Shaping these systems are decades, if not centuries, of customs and attitudes towards the political process, which are summarized in the idea of political cultures.

Elazar identifies three main political subcultures that intermingle to form the national political culture: traditionalistic, moralistic, and individualistic. I am using these three political subcultures to see if they offer an insight into each state’s decision regarding election administration. In times of crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, will states react differently as they attempt to administer elections and does political culture inform such varied responses? I conducted case studies of Iowa, Georgia, and Pennsylvania and applied a series of variables including the strength of each state’s voter ID law, the voter turnout, state office control, and relevant events. After completing my case studies, I was able to determine that Elazar’s theory is slightly predictive when it comes to state responses to crises within the context of election administration. By the end of each the 2020 election cycle, each state was able to elect its candidate, deliver those results to the federal government, and ensure someone took office. Some states did it much more smoothly than others, but this can be explained with Elazar’s political subcultures.

Year of Submission



Department of Political Science

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


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