The big picture

Turnout at the macro-level

Authored by: Jack Vowles

The Routledge Handbook of Elections, Voting Behaviorand Public Opinion

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138890404
eBook ISBN: 9781315712390
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the “big picture” of electoral turnout: research at the aggregate or macro-level in search of temporal, contextual, and institutional explanations of variation in turnout. It begins with a brief review of the field and its methodology, moving on to assess the extent of change over time. It reviews debates and empirical evidence about the possible consequences of variation in turnout for partisan politics, public policy, and social and economic inequality. It concludes by addressing the reasons for variation in turnout, with particular attention to the order of elections, competitiveness, and electoral systems.

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