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The American Nonvoter$
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Lyn Ragsdale and Jerrold G. Rusk

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190670702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190670702.001.0001

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A Theory of Uncertainty in Nonvoting

A Theory of Uncertainty in Nonvoting

(p.16) 1 A Theory of Uncertainty in Nonvoting
The American Nonvoter

Lyn Ragsdale

Jerrold G. Rusk

Oxford University Press

Abstract: This chapter sets out the theory of uncertainty in nonvoting. It rests on five premises: (1) uncertainty prohibits candidates and the eligible electorate from accurately predicting the future. (2) Uncertainty arises from novelty or surprise—how drastically elements of the national scene change in the months prior to the election. (3) This uncertainty produces risk—the likelihood of making a decision that leads to a negative outcome—electing the candidate who is least likely to reduce uncertainty. (4) People choose to vote to reduce uncertainty in response to the novelty of political occurrences. (5) The higher (lower) the level of uncertainty, the more (less) likely eligible voters will go to the polls.

Keywords:   uncertainty, novelty, risk, national campaign context, party competition, nonvoting

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