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Lecture 25

GVPT 170 Lecture Notes - Lecture 25: Early Voting, Negative Campaigning


Department
Government and Politics
Course Code
GVPT 170
Professor
Patrick Wohlfarth
Lecture
25

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American Government: Voting and Elections
The Calculus of Rational Voting
o The following considerations shape rational voting:
The probability that a vote will be decisive
The differences between candidates
The costs of voting (registration, transportation, etc.)
Vote?
o Rational non-voting
A rational person votes if the benefits outweigh the cost
This requires that it matters who wins
It also requires that your vote has a chance to affect who wins
Costs are always present
o Thus, if there is little difference between candidates, or your choice of affecting
the outcome is small, it becomes irrational to vote.
Voter Turnout
o Who shows up to vote?
Individual characteristics of voters: Education, income, age, etc.
Educated, wealthy individuals are more likely to vote.
Young people are less likely to vote.
Individual attitudes of voters: Civic duty, campaign interest
Some voters vote because they feel it their duty to vote.
Early childhood socialization is a factor.
Parents who vote often are more likely to bear children who vote
often.
Voter Turnout
o Institutional factors
Registration requirements vary by state
Motor Voter Law (1993)
Time and day of elections
Increasing use of early voting, voting by mail, etc.
Lack of penalties for failure to participate
o Campaign-specific factors
Perceived closeness of race
Negative campaigning controversy in political science research on its
effects
Level of office being contested
o Should we care if some people choose not to vote?
o Is low turnout a problem?
Turnout imbalance policy responds more to wealthier, older people
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