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Local Elections and the Politics of Small-Scale Democracy$
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J. Eric Oliver, Shang E. Ha, and Zachary Callen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691143552

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691143552.001.0001

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What Influences Local Voters’ Electoral Choices?

What Influences Local Voters’ Electoral Choices?

(p.149) Chapter 5 What Influences Local Voters’ Electoral Choices?
Local Elections and the Politics of Small-Scale Democracy

J. Eric Oliver

Shang E. Ha

Zachary Callen

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines what individual voters know about local elections and what factors shape their voting choices. After reviewing how and why we might expect that local voting behavior may differ from presidential voting behavior, it examines a unique dataset of over 1400 voters in thirty different smaller communities that focuses on these questions in particular. In line with their “homevoter” identities, most local voters typically have high knowledge levels about candidates and express a great deal of interest in local affairs. But because of this, local voters tend to employ different criteria than national ones. They are far more likely to base their votes on specific issues or incumbent performance and less likely to utilize heuristics like partisanship or candidate charisma, although this varies somewhat with the size, scope, and bias of their community. Local voters are also more likely to embody the normative expectations of the informed and rational citizen of classical democratic theory.

Keywords:   voter choice, local elections, homevoters, classical democratic theory, voting behavior

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