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Gubernatorial and Senatorial Campaign Mobilization of Voters

Robert A. Jackson
Political Research Quarterly
Vol. 55, No. 4 (Dec., 2002), pp. 825-844
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. on behalf of the University of Utah
DOI: 10.2307/3088081
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3088081
Page Count: 20
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Gubernatorial and Senatorial Campaign Mobilization of Voters
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Abstract

This article examines the role of gubernatorial and U.S. Senate campaigns in mobilizing voters in the 1990, 1992, 1994, and 1996 elections. Merging contextual measures on these campaigns with data from the Voter Supplement Files of the November Current Population Surveys, I find that statewide campaigns are especially important for activating citizens in midterms. An off-year campaign environment that is associated with hotly-contested, high- spending campaigns elevates citizens' turnout probabilities by double-digit points. However, a presidential race provides an overriding stimulus that gets to the polls most of those citizens who can be activated, as state- level races demonstrate negligible mobilizing influence in the on-years. I also find that previous looks into the influence of campaign context on individual turnout are based on "biased" tests of statistical significance. Failure to take into account state "clusters" in national samples results in downwardly biased standard errors and, consequently, upwardly biased t-/z- values for state-level campaign coefficients. Finally, I consider the two- stage nature of electoral participation in the U.S.: (1) registration followed by (2) turnout among those who are registered. The activating influence of campaigns operates primarily at the second stage.

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