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Why don’t people vote in U.S. primary elections? Assessing theoretical explanations for reduced participation.

Gerber, Alan S., Huber, Gregory A., Biggers, Daniel R. and Hendry, David J. (2016) Why don’t people vote in U.S. primary elections? Assessing theoretical explanations for reduced participation. Electoral Studies, 45. pp. 119-129. ISSN 0261-3794

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.electstud.2016.11.003

Abstract

Primary election participation in the United States is consistently lower than general election turnout. Despite this well-documented voting gap, our knowledge is limited as to the individuallevel factors that explain why some general election voters do not show up for primary contests. We provide important insights into this question, using a novel new survey to examine three theoretical perspectives on participation never before empirically applied to primary races. Compared to general elections, we find that for U.S. House primary elections sizable segments of the electorate consider the stakes lower and the costs of voting greater, feel less social pressure to turn out and hold exclusionary beliefs about who should participate, and are more willing to defer to those who know and care more about the contests. Multivariate analysis reveals that these attitudes explain validated primary election participation. These findings point to new directions for future research.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.journals.elsevier.com/electoral-studie...
Additional Information: © 2016 Elsevier Ltd
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2017 14:03
Last Modified: 20 May 2019 02:12
Funders: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/85001

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