The Turnout Myth Voting Rates and Partisan Outcomes in American National Elections

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Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2020-01-07
Publisher(s): Oxford University Press
List Price: $35.15

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When voter turnout is high, Democrats have an advantage--or so the truism goes. But, it is true? In The Turnout Myth, Daron Shaw and John Petrocik refute the widely held convention that high voter participation benefits Democrats while low involvement helps Republicans. The authors examine over 50 years of presidential, gubernatorial, Senatorial, and House election data to show that there is no consistent partisan effect associated with voter turnout in national elections. Instead, less-engaged citizens' responses to short-term forces-candidate appeal, issues, scandals, and the like-determine election turnout. Moreover, Republican and Democratic candidates are equally affected by short-term forces. The consistency of these effects suggests that partisan conflict over eligibility, registration, and voting rules and regulations is less important for election outcomes than both sides seem to believe. Featuring powerful evidence and analytical acumen, this book provides a new foundation for thinking about U.S. elections.

Author Biography

Daron Shaw is a Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the Fox News Poll, co-director of the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, director of the Texas Lyceum Poll, and associate Principle Investigator for the 2020 American National Election Study. He is author of The Race to 270 and co-author of Unconventional Wisdom (Oxford).

John Petrocik is Professor Emeritus Political Science at the University of Missouri and worked as a consultant and strategist for political campaigns. He co-authored Unconventional Wisdom (Oxford) and The Changing American Voter, winner of the American Political Science Association's 1976 Woodrow Wilson Award, and is the author of Party Coalitions.

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