Television and Voter Turnout
43 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2004
Date Written: November 2005
I use variation across markets in the timing of television's introduction to identify its impact on voter turnout. The estimated effect is significantly negative, accounting for between a quarter and a half of the total decline in turnout since the 1950s. I argue that substitution away from other media with more political coverage provides a plausible mechanism linking television to voting. As evidence for this, I show that the entry of television in a market coincided with sharp drops in consumption of newspapers and radio, and in political knowledge as measured by election surveys. I also show that both the information and turnout effects were largest in off-year congressional elections, which receive extensive coverage in newspapers but little or no coverage on television.
Keywords: Television, tv, voting, voter turnout
JEL Classification: P16, L82, O33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation