I thank Walt Stone, Nathan Monroe, Jason Roberts, and the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions. The data and code necessary for replication are available at the Dataverse Network Project (http://thedata.org).
The Rise and Decline of Turnout in Congressional Elections: Electoral Institutions, Competition, and Strategic Mobilization
Version of Record online: 21 NOV 2011
© 2011, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 56, Issue 2, pages 373–386, April 2012
How to Cite
Engstrom, E. J. (2012), The Rise and Decline of Turnout in Congressional Elections: Electoral Institutions, Competition, and Strategic Mobilization. American Journal of Political Science, 56: 373–386. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2011.00556.x
- Issue online: 16 APR 2012
- Version of Record online: 21 NOV 2011
Considerable debate exists over the impact of electoral institutions on turnout in U.S. national elections. To address this debate, I exploit the rich variation in electoral rules present throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Using a newly constructed dataset of district-level turnout results for the U.S. House from 1840 to 1940, I find that electoral institutions and political competition jointly provided incentives, and by the turn-of-the-century disincentives, for political leaders to mobilize the electorate. The results demonstrate that changes in electoral institutions and varying levels of political competition help explain congressional turnout across districts and over time.