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Voter turnout in a multidimensional policy space

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Many factors influence the likelihood of citizens turning out to vote. In this paper we focus our attention on issue voting, that is, on the likelihood that different policies offered by politicians affect the probability of voting. If voters consider both the benefits and the costs of voting, rational voters will only vote when politicians offer differentiated policies. In a multidimensional policy space this implies that citizens only vote when they perceive enough difference on the issues they care about the most. We investigate the role of voter abstention due to indifference in a unidimensional and a multidimensional policy setting using data from the US National Election Studies for 1972-2000 and find support for our predictions: voters perceiving a small difference between the platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties are less likely to vote; and voters who perceive the two parties as more different on a larger number of issues are significantly more likely to vote.© 2010 Springer-Verlag.

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