When voter turnout is high, Democrats have an advantage--or so the truism goes. But, it is true? In The Turnout Myth, Daron Shaw and John Petrocik refute the widely held convention that high voter participation benefits Democrats while low involvement helps Republicans. The authors examine over 50 years of presidential, gubernatorial, Senatorial, and House election data to show that there is no consistent partisan effect associated with voter turnout in national elections. Instead, less-engaged citizens' responses to short-term forces-candidate appeal, issues, scandals, and the like-determine election turnout. Moreover, Republican and Democratic candidates are equally affected by short-term forces. The consistency of these effects suggests that partisan conflict over eligibility, registration, and voting rules and regulations is less important for election outcomes than both sides seem to believe. Featuring powerful evidence and analytical acumen, this book provides a new foundation for thinking about U.S. elections.
Preface Chapter 1: If Only Our People Had Turned Out! Chapter 2: American Turnout: A History and Portrait Chapter 3: A Theoretical Exploration of Voting and Turnout Chapter 4: Turnout and Partisan Vote Choice: Over Time and Across States and Districts Chapter 5: Turnout and Partisan Vote Choice: Over Time and Within States and Districts Chapter 6: Congressional District Results: A Further Look Chapter 7: Why Is the Conventional Wisdom Wrong? Chapter 8: If Turnout isn't Driving Election Swings, What is? Chapter 9: Some Final Data and Thoughts on the Turnout/Vote Choice Link Appendices References
Daron Shaw is a Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the Fox News Poll, co-director of the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, director of the Texas Lyceum Poll, and associate Principle Investigator for the 2020 American National Election Study. He is author of The Race to 270 and co-author of Unconventional Wisdom (Oxford). John Petrocik is Professor Emeritus Political Science at the University of Missouri and worked as a consultant and strategist for political campaigns. He co-authored Unconventional Wisdom (Oxford) and The Changing American Voter, winner of the American Political Science Association's 1976 Woodrow Wilson Award, and is the author of Party Coalitions.
Reviews for The Turnout Myth: Voting Rates and Partisan Outcomes in American National Elections
The Turnout Myth should be mandatory reading for political scholars and election analysts. -- D. Sunshine Hillygus, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, Duke University This book scrutinizes one of the oldest and most deeply held pieces of conventional wisdom about American elections: that election outcomes depend a great deal upon turnout rates and Democrats benefit from higher turnout. Shaw and Petrocik's careful, thorough analysis utterly refutes this claim. It is dead, and it is not coming back. Rather, they find that an old, almost forgotten explanation DL surge and decline DL more strongly connects turnout and election outcomes. -- D. Roderick Kiewiet, Professor of Political Science, California Institute of Technology