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Title:Voter Participation Across Space and Time: Institutions, Contexts, and Citizens, 1828--2000
Author(s):Darmofal, David Christopher
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Nardulli, Peter F.
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, United States
Abstract:In its aggregate form, turnout carries critical implications for the democratic performance of citizens, elites, parties, and the polity. Despite these considerable macro-level implications, most studies of turnout have focused instead on the micro level and the question of why individuals vote. This micro-level focus has limited our understanding of institutional and contextual influences on turnout. It has also limited our temporal understanding of turnout, as surveys are only available for a fraction of the period of mass voter participation in American electoral history. This dissertation explores turnout from an alternative, macro-level perspective. In doing so, it highlights the institutional and contextual factors that have produced marked variation in turnout rates, and democratic performance, across local electorates since the advent of mass voter participation in the early nineteenth century. The dissertation examines county-level turnout in each presidential election from 1828 through 2000. Using recent advances in spatial econometrics, the dissertation produces three central findings. Turnout is not the apolitical phenomenon suggested by many survey studies. Instead, turnout has been shaped significantly by institutional factors such as election laws, local and state-level partisan competition, and legislative competitiveness. Turnout has also been shaped substantially by contextual factors, such as locale type. Finally, the sources of turnout have varied extensively over the course of American electoral history. For example, where election laws once produced substantial differences in turnout rates across local electorates, they no longer do. And where local partisan competition once spurred participation, the absence of such competition has spurred participation since the late 1960s. This latter finding, along with several others, suggests a fundamental alteration in the relationship between parties, citizens, and turnout since the late 1960s.
Issue Date:2003
Description:408 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3101826
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2003

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