Skip to main content
×
×
Home

How to Increase Turnout in Low-Salience Elections: Quasi-Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Concurrent Second-Order Elections on Political Participation*

Abstract

Voter turnout in second-order elections is on a dramatic decline in many modern democracies. This article investigates how electoral participation can be substantially increased by holding multiple of these less important elections simultaneously. Leading to a relative decrease in voting costs, concurrent elections theoretically have economies of scale to the individual voter and thus should see turnout levels larger than those obtained in any stand-alone election. Leveraging as-if-random variation of local election timing in Germany, we estimate the causal effect of concurrent mayoral elections on European election turnout at around 10 percentage points. Exploiting variation in treatment intensity, we show that the magnitude of the concurrency effect is contingent upon district size and the competitiveness of the local race.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
*

Arndt Leininger, Research Fellow, University of Mainz (leininger@politik.uni-mainz.de). Lukas Rudolph, Research Fellow, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU Munich) (lukas.rudolph@gsi.uni-muenchen.de). Steffen Zittlau, Research Fellow, University of Mannheim (zittlau@uni-mannheim.de). Tarik Abou-Chadi, Felix Arnold, Christopher Gandrud, Thomas Gschwend, Daniel Stegmüller, Markus Tepe, Natascha Neudorfer, Paul W. Thurner, Robert Schmidt, Christian Traxler, panel participants at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Electoral Studies Working Group of the German Political Science Association, as well as colloquium participants at the Geschwister Scholl Institute of Political Science, LMU Munich, the University of Mannheim, the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin and the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences provided very helpful comments and suggestions. The authors thank the Office of the Elections Administrator in Lower Saxony, the Ministry of the Interior, Lower Saxony (especially Gerhard Fischer and Hiltrud Scheferling) as well as the Statistical Office of Lower Saxony (especially Michael Kölbl and Ralf Martins) for providing data and background on election timing in Lower Saxony. Lukas Rudolph acknowledges a research scholarship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. All remaining errors are the authors’ own. To view supplementary material for this article, please visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/psrm.2016.38

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Aldrich John H. 1993. ‘Rational Choice and Turnout’. American Journal of Political Science 37 (1):246278.
Angrist Joschua D. and Pischke Jörn-Steffen. 2009. Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.
Armbrust Peter. 2007. Einführung in das niedersächsische Kommunalrecht, vol. 5, Hamburg: LIT Verlag.
Arnold Felix. 2015. ‘Turnout and Closeness: Evidence from 60 Years of Bavarian Mayoral Elections’. DIW Berlin Discussion papers no. 1462.
Artés Joaquín. 2014. ‘The Rain in Spain: Turnout and Partisan Voting in Spanish Elections’. European Journal of Political Economy 34:126141.
Basu Debabrata, and Rubin Donald B.. 1980. ‘Randomization Analysis of Experimental Data: The Fisher Randomization Test’. Journal of the American Statistical Association 75(371):575582.
Bechtel Michael M., Hangartner Dominik, and Schmid Lukas. 2015. ‘Does Compulsory Voting Increase Support for Leftist Policy?’. American Journal of Political Science 60(3):752767.
Börgers Tilman. 2004. ‘Costly Voting’. American Economic Review 94(1):5766.
Boyd Richard W. 1989. ‘The Effects of Primaries and Statewide Races on Voter Turnout’. The Journal of Politics 51(3):730739.
Cox Gary W., and Munger Michael C.. 1989. ‘Closeness, Expenditures, and Turnout in the 1982 U.S. House Elections’. The American Political Science Review 83(1):217231.
Detjen Joachim. 2000. Demokratie in der Gemeinde: Bürgerbeteiligung an der Kommunalpolitik in Niedersachsen. Hannover: Niedersächsische Landeszentrale für politische Bildung.
Dhillon Amrita, and Peralta Susana. 2002. ‘Economic Theories of Voter Turnout’. Economic Journal 112(480):F332F352.
Endersby James W., Galatas Steven E., and Rackaway Chapman B.. 2002. ‘Closeness Counts in Canada: Voter Participation in the 1993 and 1997 Federal Elections’. The Journal of Politics 64(2):610631.
Fauvelle-Aymar Christine, and François Abel. 2015. ‘Mobilization, Cost of Voting and Turnout: A Natural Randomized Experiment with Double Elections’. Public Choice 162(1):183199.
Ferrara Federico, Herron Erik S., and Nishikawa Misa. 2005. Mixed Electoral Systems. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Ferwerda Jeremy. 2014. ‘Electoral Consequences of Declining Participation: A Natural Experiment in Austria’. Electoral Studies 35:242252.
Finseraas Henning, and Vernby Kåre. 2014. ‘A Mixed Blessing for the Left? Early Voting, Turnout and Election Outcomes in Norway’. Electoral Studies 33:278291.
Fowler Anthony. 2015. ‘Regular Voters, Marginal Voters and the Electoral Effects of Turnout’. Political Science Research and Methods 3(2):205219.
Garmann Sebastian. 2014. ‘A Note on Electoral Competition and Turnout in Run-Off Electoral Systems: Taking Into Account Both Endogeneity and Attenuation Bias’. Electoral Studies 34:261265.
Geys Benny. 2006. ‘Explaining Voter Turnout: A Review of Aggregate-Level Research’. Electoral Studies 25(4):637663.
Haspel Moshe, and Knotts H. Gibbs. 2005. ‘Location, Location, Location: Precinct Placement and the Costs of Voting’. The Journal of Politics 67(2):560573.
Herron Erik S., and Nishikawa Misa. 2000. ‘Contamination Effects and the Number of Parties in Mixed-Superposition Electoral Systems’. Electoral Studies 20(1):6386.
Hershey Marjorie Randon. 2009. ‘What We Know About Voter-ID Laws, Registration, and Turnout’. PS: Political Science & Politics 42(1):8791.
Hodler Roland, Luechinger Simon, and Stutzer Alois. 2015. ‘The Effects of Voting Costs on the Democratic Process and Public Finances’. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 7(1):141171.
Imbens Guido W., and Rubin Donald R.. 2014. Causal Inference for Statistics, Social, and Biomedical Sciences. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Indridason Indridi H. 2008. ‘Competition & Turnout: The Majority Run-Off as a Natural Experiment’. Electoral Studies 27(4):699710.
Ipsen Jörn. 2011. Niedersächsisches Kommunalrecht. Stuttgart; Munich: Boorberg.
Kayser Mark Andreas. 2005. ‘Who Surfs, Who Manipulates? The Determinants of Opportunistic Election Timing and Electorally Motivated Economic Intervention’. The American Political Science Review 99(1):1727.
Kirchgässner Gebhard, and Meyer zu Himmern Anne. 1995. ‘Expected Closeness and Turnout: An Empirical Analysis for Germany’. International Advances in Economic Research 1(3):314.
Krishna Vijay, and Morgan John. 2011. ‘Overcoming Ideological Bias in Elections’. The Journal of Political Economy 119(2):183211.
Lechner Michael. 2011. ‘The Estimation of Causal Effects by Difference-in-Difference Methods’. Foundations and Trends in Econometrics 4(3):165224.
Lijphart Arend. 1997. ‘Unequal Participation: Democracy’s Unresolved Dilemma’. The American Political Science Review 91(1):114.
Lupia Arthur, and Strom Kaare. 1995. ‘Coalition Termination and the Strategic Timing of Parliamentary Elections’. The American Political Science Review 89(3):648665.
Lutz Georg, and Marsh Michael. 2007. ‘Introduction: Consequences of Low Turnout’. Electoral Studies 26(3):539547.
Mattila Mikko. 2003. ‘Why Bother? Determinants of Turnout in the European Elections’. Electoral Studies 22(3):449468.
Meredith Marc. 2009. ‘The Strategic Timing of Direct Democracy’. Economics and Politics 21(1):159177.
Rallings Colin, and Thrasher Michael. 2005. ‘Not All “Second-Order” Contests are the Same: Turnout and Party Choice at the Concurrent 2004 Local and European Parliament Elections in England’. British Journal of Politics and International Relations 7(4):584597.
Rallings Colin, Thrasher Michael, and Borisyuk G.. 2003. ‘Seasonal Factors, Voter Fatigue and the Costs of Voting’. Electoral Studies 22(1):6579.
Reif Karlheinz. 1997. ‘European Elections as Member State Second-Order Elections Revisited’. European Journal of Political Research 31:115124.
Reif Karlheinz, and Schmitt Hermann. 1980. ‘Nine Second-Order National Elections – A Conceptual Framework for the Analysis of European Election Results’. European Journal of Political Research 8(1):344.
Riker William H., and Ordeshook Peter C.. 1968. ‘A Theory of the Calculus of Voting’. American Political Science Review 62(1):2542.
Rubin Donald B. 1974. ‘Estimating Causal Effects of Treatments in Randomized and Nonrandomized Studies’. Journal of Educational Psychology 66(5):688701.
Schakel Arjan H., and Dandoy Régis. 2014. ‘Electoral Cycles and Turnout in Multilevel Electoral Systems’. West European Politics 37(3):605623.
Schmid Lukas. 2015. ‘Concurrent Elections, the Calculus of Voting, and Political Decisions’. Working Paper, http://www.lukasschmid.net/s/concurrent_refs23.pdf
Shachar Ron, and Nalebuff Barry. 1999. ‘Follow the Leader: Theory and Evidence on Political Participation’. The American Economic Review 89(3):525547.
Singh Shane P. 2015. ‘Compulsory Voting and the Turnout Decision Calculus’. Political Studies 63(3):548568.
Smith Alastair. 2003. ‘Election Timing in Majoritarian Parliaments’. British Journal of Political Science 33(3):397418.
STK. 2013. ‘Kommunale Vertretungen und Hauptverwaltungsbeamte sollen künftig synchron gewählt werden – erste „neue“ Wahlen im Herbst 2014’. Available at http://www.stk.niedersachsen.de/aktuelles/presseinformationen/kommunale-vertretungen-undhauptverwaltungsbeamte-sollen-kuenftig-synchron-gewaehlt-werden--erste-neue-wahlen-im-herbst-2014-118124.html, accessed 19 September 2016.
VanderWeele Tyler J., and Hernán Miguel A.. 2013. ‘Causal Inference Under Multiple Versions of Treatment’. Journal of Causal Inference 1(1):120.
Vetter Angelika. 2015. ‘Just a Matter of Timing? Local Electoral Turnout in Germany in the Context of National and European Parliamentary Elections’. German Politics 24(1):6784.
Wong Janelle S. 2000. ‘The Effects of Age and Political Exposure on the Development of Party Identification Among Asian American and Latino Immigrants in the United States’. Political Behavior 22(4):341371.
Wright James D., Verba Sidney, and Nie Norma H.. 1975. Participation in America: Political Democracy and Social Equality. New York: Harper Row.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Political Science Research and Methods
  • ISSN: 2049-8470
  • EISSN: 2049-8489
  • URL: /core/journals/political-science-research-and-methods
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Leininger et al. Dataset
Dataset

 Unknown
PDF
Supplementary materials

Leininger supplementary material
Appendix

 PDF (461 KB)
461 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 9
Total number of PDF views: 62 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 536 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 11th October 2016 - 18th January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.