Early Voting Experiences and Habit Formation

31 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2019 Last revised: 8 Jul 2020

See all articles by Elias Dinas

Elias Dinas

University of Oxford

Vicente Valentim

European University Institute

Mark N. Franklin

European University Institute

Date Written: October 8, 2019


A large body of research has shown that first-time voting experiences can have important effects on subsequent turnout, with salient elections boosting turnout later in life and non-salient ones suppressing it. We challenge this view. Following research on the context-dependent nature of habit formation, we argue that there are reasons to expect that all elections should affect subsequent turnout for elections of the same type. Comparing individuals that differ in nothing but the level of salience of the first election they were eligible for (Presidential or Midterm), we find empirical support for this expectation. Irrespective of the salience of the election, individuals are more likely to vote for, and be interested in, elections of the same type as their first voting experience. This finding helps understand the mechanism behind the formation of voting habits and challenges the view that low-salience elections have detrimental effects on subsequent participation.

Keywords: Voting habits; midterm elections; turnout; presidential elections; eligibility

Suggested Citation

Dinas, Elias and Valentim, Vicente and Franklin, Mark N., Early Voting Experiences and Habit Formation (October 8, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3466515 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3466515

Elias Dinas (Contact Author)

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Vicente Valentim

European University Institute ( email )

San Domenico di Fiesole

Mark N. Franklin

European University Institute ( email )

Via dei Roccettini 9
San Domenico di Fiesole
Florence, 50014

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