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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

Chapter:
(p.237) EIGHT The Decision (Not) to Vote
Source:
Political Choice in Britain
Author(s):

Harold D. Clarke (Contributor Webpage)

David Sanders (Contributor Webpage)

Marianne C. Stewart (Contributor Webpage)

Paul Whiteley (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/019924488X.003.0008

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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