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Political efficacy and the persistence of turnout shocks

Sebastian Garmann

Economics and Politics, 2020, vol. 32, issue 3, 411-429

Abstract: Whether voter turnout is sticky, that is, whether turnout shocks persist over time, is important both for the evaluation of institutional reforms and to inform about assumptions in behavioral models of turnout. This study examines an exogenous and large turnout boost caused by combining a high‐office with a low‐office election, but does not find that this contemporaneous turnout boost per se persists at subsequent, nonconcurrent low‐office elections. Heterogeneity analyses rather show that the effect is conditional on the closeness of the low‐office election: Close elections lead to positive turnout persistence, while clearly decided races even discourage from voting in the next election. An explanation is that the turnout boost causes voters to update their beliefs about the probability of being pivotal.

Date: 2020
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