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The Mobilization of Voters in Congressional Elections

Gregory A. Caldeira, Samuel C. Patterson and Gregory A. Markko
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 47, No. 2 (Jun., 1985), pp. 490-509
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2130893
Page Count: 20
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The Mobilization of Voters in Congressional Elections
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Abstract

Why is it that some voters go to the polls on election day, and others do not? Scholars of electoral turnout have too often restricted themselves to a relatively narrow range of independent variables, and have failed to include important political influences in analyses. In this study, grounded in the data of the 1978 National Election Study and augmented by additional contextual variables, we develop five alternative models of electoral turnout--legal restrictions, socioeconomic characteristics, social-psychological attitudes, economic conditions, and political mobilization. We especially emphasize the mobilization of voters via campaign spending, partisan competition, contestation of elections, and the presence of other, more salient races. Political mobilization survives and thrives even when we take into account the more conventional explanations of turnout at the polls. In conclusion, we suggest that accountings for participation which omit political mobilization are partial and suspect.

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