America's Uneven Democracy: Race, Turnout, and by Zoltan L. Hajnal

By Zoltan L. Hajnal

Even supposing there's a common trust that asymmetric voter turnout results in biased results in American democracy, current empirical checks have came upon few results. through providing a scientific account of ways and the place turnout concerns in neighborhood politics, this publication demanding situations a lot of what we all know approximately turnout in the United States this day. It demonstrates that low and asymmetric turnout, an element at play in such a lot American towns, results in sub-optimal results for racial and ethnic minorities. Low turnout ends up in losses in mayoral elections, much less equitable racial and ethnic illustration on urban councils, and skewed spending regulations. the significance of turnout confirms lengthy held suspicions concerning the under-representation of minorities and increases normative matters approximately neighborhood democracy. thankfully, this publication deals an answer. research of neighborhood participation shows small switch to neighborhood election timing - a reform that's reasonably priced and comparatively effortless to enact- may dramatically extend neighborhood voter turnout.

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Extra resources for America's Uneven Democracy: Race, Turnout, and Representation in City Politics

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The data are far from perfect. For one, forty-six elections across twenty cities is a small number of cases. 15 The data set is also incomplete. Data on racial voting patterns were not available for about half of the elections in these cities over this time 13 14 15 We might also be interested in preferences on local policy questions. Surveys on local policy preference are more readily available and they do reveal fairly clear racial divisions in terms of public opinion. As we will detail in Chapter 5, these surveys generally suggest that there are reasonably strong differences of opinion between racial and ethnic minorities on one hand and whites on the other (Clark and Ferguson 1983, Deleon 1991, Lovrich 1974, Welch et al.

5 At the local level where policies are most likely to be implemented and where a majority of the nation’s civic leaders are being elected, important public policy decisions are being made without the input of most of the affected residents. 1 2 3 4 5 To get this overall measure of local voter turnout, we utilize responses from the 1986 ICMA survey of city clerks – the most recent nationally representative survey with data on aggregate turnout and registration figures. Turnout figures are derived from the 2001 PPIC survey which went out to every city clerk in the state and had a response rate of 84 percent.

The evidence that these studies present is, however, at best anecdotal and at worst distorted. Piven and Cloward (1988), for example, offer persuasive claims about how the disenfranchisement of lower-class and minority voters greatly altered political outcomes by lowering class consciousness and inhibiting the creation of a party with lower-class interests. These claims are compelling but the authors provide only anecdotal evidence for these connections. Similarly, Wattenberg (2002) offers sweeping conclusions about the importance of turnout but is able to reach these conclusions only by highlighting exceptional elections in American history and by overstating small differences between voters and nonvoters.

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