The political consequences of alienation-based and indifference-based voter abstention: Applications to Presidential Elections

The political consequences of alienation-based and indifference-based voter abstention:... We present a unified model of turnout and vote choice that incorporates two distinct motivations for citizens to abstain from voting: alienation from the candidates, and indifference between the candidates. Empirically, we find that alienation and indifference each motivated significant amounts of voter abstention in the 1980–1988 U.S. presidential elections. Using model-based computer simulations—which permit us to manipulate factors affecting turnout—we show that distinguishing between alienation and indifference illuminates three controversies in elections research. First, we find that abstention because of either alienation or indifference benefited Republican candidates, but only very modestly. Second, presidential elections involving attractive candidates motivate higher turnout, but only to the extent that abstention stems from alienation rather than from indifference. Third, paradoxically, citizens’ individual-level tendencies to abstain because of alienation are strongly affected by their evaluations of the candidates’ policies, whereas aggregate turnout rates do not depend significantly on the candidates’ policy platforms. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Political Behavior Springer Journals

The political consequences of alienation-based and indifference-based voter abstention: Applications to Presidential Elections

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 by Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.
Subject
Political Science and International Relations; Political Science; Sociology, general
ISSN
0190-9320
eISSN
1573-6687
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11109-005-9002-1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

We present a unified model of turnout and vote choice that incorporates two distinct motivations for citizens to abstain from voting: alienation from the candidates, and indifference between the candidates. Empirically, we find that alienation and indifference each motivated significant amounts of voter abstention in the 1980–1988 U.S. presidential elections. Using model-based computer simulations—which permit us to manipulate factors affecting turnout—we show that distinguishing between alienation and indifference illuminates three controversies in elections research. First, we find that abstention because of either alienation or indifference benefited Republican candidates, but only very modestly. Second, presidential elections involving attractive candidates motivate higher turnout, but only to the extent that abstention stems from alienation rather than from indifference. Third, paradoxically, citizens’ individual-level tendencies to abstain because of alienation are strongly affected by their evaluations of the candidates’ policies, whereas aggregate turnout rates do not depend significantly on the candidates’ policy platforms.

Journal

Political BehaviorSpringer Journals

Published: Apr 1, 2006

References

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