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Who Votes Now?Demographics, Issues, Inequality, and Turnout in the United States$
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Jan E. Leighley and Jonathan Nagler

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691159348

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691159348.001.0001

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Theoretical Framework and Models

Theoretical Framework and Models

(p.52) Three Theoretical Framework and Models
Who Votes Now?

Jan E. Leighley

Jonathan Nagler

Princeton University Press

This chapter introduces the theoretical framework that guides the analyses and discussions of the determinants of voter turnout. It adopts a model of turnout that poses an individual's decision to vote as a reflection of the costs and benefits of engaging in such behavior. Then, for each presidential election year since 1972, it estimates turnout as a function of demographic characteristics of interest. These estimates allow us to estimate the impact of one demographic characteristic (such as income) on turnout while holding other demographic characteristics (such as education and race) constant. These estimates are referred to as “conditional” relationships. The findings suggest that the conditional relationships between education and turnout, and income and turnout (i.e., conditional income bias) have been relatively stable (or modestly reduced) since 1972. Important changes in the conditional relationships between age, race, gender, and turnout have also been observed.

Keywords:   U.S presidential elections, voter behavior, voter turnout, demographics, conditional relationships

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