Who Votes? is the classic analysis of participation in American elections. It presents a detailed analysis of the influence of demographic characteristics (e.g. education, income, rural residency) on the decision to vote. Who Votes? is also a particularly fine example of how to conduct and present a study.
Jonathan Nagler's article from the American Journal of Political Science presented a major challenge to the conventional wisdom established by Wolfinger and Rosenstone in Who Votes? Do your best to understand the methodological basis for Nagler's challenge. Where does he disagree with Wolfinger and Rosenstone? Why?
Stephan Knack's article from the Journal of Politics presents an analysis of a relatively recent effort to expand participation through legislation: the National Voter Registration Act, better known as the Motor Voter Law.
Like Chicken Little, political commentators regularly decry the decline in voter turnout after every election. McDonald and Popkin present a systematic analysis of actual changes in voter turnout over the past two decades.
Verba, Schlozman and Brady present what is arguably a more comprehensive and thorough analysis of why people vote and participate in other political activities. Their study, based on a relatively recent enormous survey, goes beyond demographic factors to look at how activities in our daily lives, such as work and church, can influence political participation.
Describe the nature of Wolfinger and Rosenstone's study in Who Votes?
What does it mean to control for or hold constant for a variable? For example, what does it mean to study the effect of education on turnout after controlling for income (see pp. 23-4)?
According to Wolfinger and Rosenstone, what is impact of the socioeconomic variables (e.g. race, income, education, age, gender) listed in table 1.1 (see p. 3) on voting?
What is the relative importance of education, income, and occupation in predicting whether or not an individual decides to go to the polls?
Do African Americans and Hispanics vote at a higher or lower rate than whites after controlling for socioeconomic status?
Do women vote at a higher or lower rate than men? Why might gender differences in the level of voting have declined over time?
Does the amount of free time influence turnout? In other words, do busy people vote at lower rate than people with more time to go to the polls?
What was the effect of registration laws on turnout in the 1970s according to Wolfinger and Rosenstone?
Does Knack believe that the National Voter Registration Act (often called "Motor Voter") will result in higher levels of registration and turnout? Why might people who registrered under Motor Voter vote at a lower rate than other registrants?
What is the effect of registration laws and education turnout according to Nagler? Does he disagree with Knack?
Why does Nagler believe that Who Votes? incorrectly assesses the impact of education on voter turnout? What does Nagler argue is the true relationship between education and turnout?
According to McDonald and Popkin, have voter turnout levels risen or fallen over the past twenty years? What accounts for the diffference between the widely held public perception and their results?
How does the Citizen Participation Study (CPS) conducted by Verba, Schlozman, and Brady differ from the Wolfinger and Rosenstone study in Who Votes? in terms of both methods and goal of the study? Why do Verba and his colleagues believe it is important to look beyond SES or casting a vote?
What is the Civic Voluntarism Model? What key factors explain active involvement in politics?
What sorts of skills developed in non-political organizations faciliate greater political activity? What are some examples of organizations that promote these skills? How do they differ across religious and racial groups?
Does SES (i.e. socioeconomic status) and other resources play a different role in promoting political activism according to Verba et al than it does in voting according to Wolfinger and Rosenstone? What about the amount of free time?
The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the American University. If you have any questions about this page, please email David Lublin at email@example.com. This page was last updated on August 20, 2002.