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Political Choice in Britain$
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Harold D. Clarke, David Sanders, Marianne C. Stewart, and Paul Whiteley

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199244881

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2004

DOI: 10.1093/019924488X.001.0001

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The Decision (Not) to Vote

The Decision (Not) to Vote

(p.237) EIGHT The Decision (Not) to Vote
Political Choice in Britain

Harold D. Clarke (Contributor Webpage)

David Sanders (Contributor Webpage)

Marianne C. Stewart (Contributor Webpage)

Paul Whiteley (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

First tests rival models of voting turnout using data drawn from the 2001 BES pre- and post-election surveys. Analyses reveal that the general incentives model performs best. Crucial individual-level influences on electoral turnout are calculations of efficacy-discounted benefits and costs of participation, sense of civic duty, and age. A model of the aggregate-level dynamics of turnout between 1945 and 2001 indicate a substantial portion of the sharp decline in turnout that occurred in the 1997 and 2001 general elections was caused by the one-sided nature of the contests, coupled with the perception that the two major parties did not offer a distinctive menu of policy choices. Analyses suggest that the strong relationship between age and civic duty has a sizeable generational component.

Keywords:   age cohorts, civic duty, efficacy, ideological proximity, party competition, turnout

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