The Demobilization of American Voters: A Comprehensive Theory of Voter Turnout

The Demobilization of American Voters: A Comprehensive Theory of Voter Turnout

The Demobilization of American Voters: A Comprehensive Theory of Voter Turnout

The Demobilization of American Voters: A Comprehensive Theory of Voter Turnout

Synopsis

This work presents an alternative empirical theory of voter turnout. Named the Mobilization/Demobilization Theory, it analyzes voter turnout of different segments of the voting age population in terms of barriers created to prevent participation and efforts to stimulate participation. Avey challenges the theory that the characteristics of nonvoters, low levels of education and political apathy, are the root causes of poor voter turnout among persons of low socioeconomic status, arguing instead that nonvoting results from the behavior of politicians, political elites, and the political system.

Excerpt

This book challenges the theory that the characteristics of nonvoters, lower levels of education, and political apathy are the root causes of poor voter turnout among persons of low socioeconomic status (SES). This book argues instead that nonvoting results from the behavior of politicians, political elites, and the political system. The standard SES model ignores political system variables, offers little insight into how to increase voter turnout, and does not stand up to cross-national examination or to the study of historical patterns of voter mobilization in the United States.

This book presents a mobilization/demobilization theory which analyzes voter turnout of different segments of the voting age population in terms of barriers created to prevent participation and efforts to stimulate participation. The political elites who control party policy are responsible for the depressed rates of voter participation among the poor and the working class.

The history of demobilization shows that tactics such as difficult registration procedures, poll taxes, literacy tests, and intimidation have been used to keep blacks and poor whites from the polls in the South and other areas. Union-busting efforts in the 1920s and 1930s also discouraged voting. In the post-World War II period, a strong antileftist attitude repressed leftist organizers. The cumulative effect of demobilization was that the United States is the only Western government today that has no social democratic political party and excludes large segments of the population from the political arena.

Demobilization largely ended following major reforms in the 1960s. The major reason for low voter turnout today, particularly among the poor and working class, is the failure of the major parties, particularly the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.