, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 415-436
Date: 08 Feb 2008

Political Socialization in Context: The Effect of Political Competition on Youth Voter Turnout

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Adolescence is an important time for political development. Researchers have concentrated on the family as the sole socializing agent of youths; however, as Campbell, Gimpel, and others have shown, political contexts also matter for young citizens. Using the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, the Record of American Democracy, and election outcomes data, I find that adolescents who resided in politically competitive locales or states have higher turnout years later compared to those who lived in uncompetitive contexts. These effects are not mediated by the home political environment and act through political socialization. This research adds to a growing literature on the influence of political contexts on political behavior and is the first to explore how political competition during adolescence influences voter turnout in young adulthood.

An earlier version of this article was presented at the Annual Meetings of the Midwest Political Science Association, April 20–23, 2006 in Chicago.