Does Context Outweigh Individual Characteristics in Driving Voting Behavior? Evidence from Relocations within the U.S
95 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2020 Last revised: 3 Jul 2022
Date Written: October 2020
We measure the overall influence of contextual versus individual factors (e.g., voting rules and media as opposed to race and education) on voter behavior, and explore underlying mechanisms. Using a U.S.-wide voter-level panel, 2008–18, we examine voters who relocate across state and county lines, tracking changes in registration, turnout, and party affiliation to estimate location and individual fixed effects in a value-added model. Location explains 37 percent of the cross-state variation in turnout (to 63 percent for individual characteristics) and an only slightly smaller share of variation in party affiliation. Place effects are larger for young and White voters.
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