Do Citizens Keep Voting or Abstaining by Habit? No

15 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2022

See all articles by Jean-François Daoust

Jean-François Daoust

University of Edinburgh

André Blais

University of Montreal - Department of Political Science

Date Written: April 21, 2022

Abstract

The conventional wisdom is that voting is a habit. We challenge this idea and argue that it is not a compelling explanation of citizens’ decision to vote or abstain. Building on theoretical foundations of the habitual voter model, we test whether the coherent and fundamental prediction of the model holds. That is, key factors shaping voter turnout should play a lesser role among voters who have acquired a habit. Using data from the British Election Study including a validated turnout measure, we systematically fail to find evidence for such prediction. Our research challenges the interpretation that people vote or abstain because they used to do so in the past. An alternative explanation is that people keep voting (or abstaining) over time because the deeply rooted attitudes that drive their decision (political interest, civic duty, etc.) are very stable.

Keywords: Voter Turnout, Habit, Elections, Long-Term Effects

Suggested Citation

Daoust, Jean-François and Blais, André, Do Citizens Keep Voting or Abstaining by Habit? No (April 21, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4090013 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4090013

Jean-François Daoust (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9JY
United Kingdom

André Blais

University of Montreal - Department of Political Science ( email )

Pavillon Lionel-Groulx
3150, rue Jean-Brillant
Montréal, Québec H3T 1N8
Canada
514-343-7349 (Phone)

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