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Does Turnout Decline Matter? Electoral Turnout and Partisan Choice in the 1997 Canadian Federal Election

  • Michael D. Martinez (a1) and Jeff Gill (a2)

Abstract. The recent decline in electoral turnout in Canada has attracted the concern of scholars and public officials, but the partisan consequences of this decline have received only scant attention. We begin to address that question with a simulation based on the 1997 Canadian Election Study. Based on estimated probabilities of individual behaviour derived from multinomial logit models of voter choice, we find that higher turnout would have likely hurt the Liberal party in Quebec, but slightly helped the Liberals outside of Quebec. We interpret this pattern as evidence that generational politics plays a role in shaping the relationship between electoral turnout and partisan support.

Résumé. Le déclin récent dans la participation électorale au Canada a attiré l'intérêt des chercheurs et des représentants de l'Etat, mais les conséquences partisanes de ce déclin n'ont sucité qu'une attention limitée. Nous commençons à aborder cette question à l'aide d'une simulation basée sur l'Etude électorale canadienne de 1997. En nous appuyant sur des probabilités estimatives du comportement individuel dérivées de modèles logistique multinominal du choix d'électeur, nous constatons qu'une participation plus importante aurait probablement nuit au Parti Libéral au Québec, mais aurait légèrement favorisé le Parti Libéral en dehors du Québec. Nous interprétons ce modèle comme preuve que la politique de générations contribue à la formation du rapport entre la participation électorale et l'appui partisan.

Corresponding author
Michael D. Martinez, University of Florida, Department of Political Science, P.O. Box 117325, Gainesville, Florida 32611-7325 USA;
Jeff Gill, University of California-Davis, Department of Political Science, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616 USA;
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An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2003 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association (Philadelphia). We appreciate helpful comments from Ken Carty, Jan Leighley and this Journal's anonymous reviewers.
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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-political-science-revue-canadienne-de-science-politique
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