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Objective

We examine whether people with disabilities are part of the political mainstream, or remain outsiders in important respects, by studying political participation and the underexplored topic of how disability relates to attitudes toward politics.

Method

We analyze new disability measures on the 2008 and 2010 Current Population Surveys voting supplements, and two other nationally representative surveys for 2006 and 2007.

Results

Citizens with disabilities remain less likely than nondisabled citizens to vote. While there are few differences in political preferences and party affiliations, people with disabilities tend to favor a greater government role in employment and healthcare, and give lower ratings on government responsiveness and trustworthiness.

Conclusion

People with disabilities continue to be sidelined in important ways. Fully closing the disability gap would have led to 3.0 million more voters in 2008 and 3.2 million more voters in 2010, potentially affecting many races and subsequent public policies.