Electoral Competitiveness and Turnout in British Elections, 1964-2010
Stevens, Daniel P.
Political Science Research and Methods
Cambridge University Press
Analyzing the British Election Study from 1964 to 2010, we examine the influence of electoral context on turnout, focusing on the closeness of elections in terms of lagged seat and constituency-level winning margins. Using cross-classified multilevel models to account for individual and contextual factors and disentangle life-cycle, cohort- and election-specific effects, we find that closeness strongly affects voting behavior, particularly among new electors. Widening seat margins in British elections over the last decades have had a persistent impact on turnout. Respondents who faced less competitive environments when young are more likely to abstain in subsequent elections than those reaching voting age after close-fought races. We conclude that variations in competitiveness have had both short- and long-term effects on turnout.
This is the author version accepted for publication in Political Science Research and Methods. The final version is forthcoming and will be available on the Publisher's website via http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=RAM
Forthcoming in final published format