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Voter Turnout in Runoff Elections

Stephen G. Wright
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 51, No. 2 (May, 1989), pp. 385-396
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2131348
Page Count: 12
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Voter Turnout in Runoff Elections
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Abstract

I examine the extent to which voter turnout tends to drop from the primary to the runoff election. Results indicate that turnout declined in almost 77% of all Democratic gubernatorial, senatorial, and congressional runoffs held from 1956 to 1984. The extent of decline is greater in congressional and senatorial runoffs than in gubernatorial runoffs and is especially pronounced in congressional runoffs unaccompanied by gubernatorial or senatorial runoffs. I explore several other determinants of turnout decline, including both contextual and procedural variables. Especially important is the degree of Republican opposition: as the level of Republican viability in a state or constituency increases, so does the relative level of runoff abstention.

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