Turnout and Representativeness in Off-Year Elections
11 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2018
Date Written: July 30, 2018
The drop-off in voter turnout between presidential and off-year elections is one of the most commonly documented empirical patterns in U.S. political behavior. Yet studies of the determinants of voter turnout, and representativeness of voters, in off-year elections, are rare; instead, the patterns observed in presidential elections are assumed to hold for off-year elections. We provide an assessment of the demographic representativeness of voters in off-year elections compared to presidential elections, and find that off-year voters are not less representative of presidential election voters with respect to education and income. We also estimate a multivariable model of voter turnout in off-year elections and confirm that the policy positions of House candidates are associated with who votes, reconciling conflicting findings in previous research and affirming the importance of political factors in determining who votes in off-year elections.
Keywords: voting, elections, representation
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