Public Opinion and Voting Behavior

Selective Abstention in Simultaneous Elections: Understanding the Turnout Gap

Sirus Dehdari Stockholm University & Uppsala University
,
Jaakko Meriläinen Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México
,
Sven Oskarsson Uppsala University

Abstract

If two elections are held at the same day, why do some people choose to vote in one but to abstain in another? We argue that selective abstention is driven by the same factors that determine voter turnout. Our empirical analysis focuses on Sweden where the (aggregate) turnout gap between local and national elections has been about 2-3%. Rich administrative registry data reveal that people from higher socio-economic backgrounds, immigrants, women, older individuals, and people who have been less geographically mobile are less likely to selectively abstain.

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