f_0007404_6317 - Revisiting the Profile of the American...

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Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol. 7, No. 2 & 3, Summer & Fall 2008 111 Revisiting the Profile of the American Voter in the Context of Declining Turnout Bulat Akhmetkarimov * Abstract The phenomenon of declining voter turnout in U.S. national elections has been one of the major perplexing issues that political scientists have attempted to explain in recent decades. Today we are face to face with a participation rate that has fallen nearly one-quarter of its initial value since 1960. My article has aimed at redrawing the profile of the American voter in the second half of the 20 th century. Reliable data for the period of 40 years presented a valuable opportunity to add to the picture of the turnout phenomenon in the tradition of a behavioral approach. In the first part of this work I have tested test the notion that the overall level of life satisfaction affects the individual’s decision whether or not to participate in elections. Known to be directly related to the well-being of its citizens, the economic performance of the entire state was another criterion to be tested as to its effect on the voter turnout over last 40 years. Hence, in this section, I have checked for the impact of macroeconomic indicators such as the minimum wage, unemployment, and inflation rates, as well as the announced percentage of the population temporarily receiving financial assistance from the government. Next, I referred to societal factors and analyzed whether the sense of insecurity or the level of crime has discouraged people to vote. Finally, concerning institutional factors, I measured the changes in the overall turnout since 1960, controlling for an increased population due to foreign-born immigrants. Test results support the general wisdom about political participation in the period in question and lead us to look for causes in the traditional literature, particularly in partisanship ties, schemas, and candidate evaluations. The life-satisfaction of people and the origins of the ‘added’ population were shown to have had no real effect on turnout. ‘Economic variables’ failed to explain the phenomenon as well. Crime rates and the assistance for needy families, however found some empirical support. People become more dissociable as they get frightened; thus they participate less. The repercussions of tax payers, however, were dominant in government policies regarding assistance for
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Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol. 7, No. 2 & 3, Summer & Fall 2008 112 needy families. As the number of people receiving government assistance increased, turnout tended to decline. After having discussed the above factors, I redraw the profile of the “American Voter” and argue whether or not it fits the classic view. Based on the outcomes of this analysis, my estimation of the future of voter turnout concludes this study. Introduction
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course BIOL 227 taught by Professor Koob during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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f_0007404_6317 - Revisiting the Profile of the American...

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