Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The reappearing American voter why did turnout rise in '92?

Knack, Stephen (1997): The reappearing American voter why did turnout rise in '92? Published in: Electoral Studies , Vol. 16, No. 1 (March 1997): pp. 17-32.

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Abstract

Various possible explanations for the turnout increase of nearly 6 percentage points in the 1992 U.S. presidential election as compared to the 1988 election are examined, using both survey and state-level data. The turnout impact of Perot's candidacy, surprisingly, is found to be negligible. Neither is support found for views frequently expressed in the media that the economic recession and MTV's 'Rock the Vote' registration campaign aimed at young people played substantial roles in stimulating additional voter participation. Only a small fraction of the turnout rise can be attributed to the spread and maturation of 'motor voter' registration programs at the state level between the 1988 and 1992 elections. The mystery is 'resolved' in part by evidence that, from the perspective of recent history, the low turnout of 1988 is at least as great an anomaly as the high turnout of 1992. Unfortunately, there are few clues as to what factors peculiar to the 1988 elections led turnout to be so low in that year.

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