Political Behavior

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 7–32 | Cite as

Disinterest, disaffection, and participation in presidential politics

  • Warren E. Miller

Abstract

Undue emphasis on the decline of voter turnout in national elections and its interpretation as indicative of political malaise are likely to make for erroneous understanding of the American democracy. Evidence from studies of the national electorate conducted between 1952 and 1978 shows that the explanation for declining turnout is not to be found in commensurate diminution in political interest or involvement, or in a decreasing sense of civic duty, feeling of political efficacy or trust in government. Where patterns of change have coincided, further analysis indicates an absence of possible cause-and-effect relationships. The decline has been chiefly limited to those population sectors characterized by lack of interest or involvement in national partisan politics. The article concludes with a projection of likely developments in political participation, including turnout, in future presidential elections.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Beck, Paul (1974). “A Socialization Theory of Partisan Realignment.” In R. Niemi,The Politics of Future Citizens. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  2. Boyd, Richard W. (1980). “Structural and Attitudinal Explanations of Turnout.” Unpublished manuscript, April 1980.Google Scholar
  3. Campbell, Angus, et al. (1960).The American Voter. New York: John Wiley Reprint. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1976. Chapter 15, “Agrarian Political Behavior,” pp. 402–40.Google Scholar
  4. Ferejohn, John A., and Morris P. Fiorina (1979). “The Decline in Turnout in Presidential Elections.” Presented at the Conference on Voter Turnout, San Diego, California.Google Scholar
  5. Jones, Ruth S. (1980a). “State Public Financing and the State Parties.” In Michael J. Malbin, Ed.,Parties, Interest Groups, and Campaign Finance Laws. Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, pp. 283–321.Google Scholar
  6. -- (1980b). “The Partisan Impact of State Public Campaign Financing Laws: Collection and Allocation.” Presented at the 1980 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, Illinois.Google Scholar
  7. Levitin, Teresa E., and Warren E. Miller (1979). “Ideological Interpretations of Presidential Elections.”American Political Science Review 73: 751–71.Google Scholar
  8. Miller, Arthur H., and Warren E. Miller (1977). “Partisanship and Performance: ‘Rational’ Choice in the 1976 Presidential Election.” Presented at the 1977 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  9. ——, Warren E. Miller, Alden S. Raine, and Thad A. Brown (1976). “A Majority Party in Disarray: Policy Polarization in the 1972 Election.”American Political Science Review 70: 753–78. See also Miller, Arthur H. and Warren E. Miller (1976). “Ideology in the 1972 Election: Myth or Reality: A Rejoinder.”American Political Science Review 70: 832-49.Google Scholar
  10. Miller, Warren E. (1979). “Confidence in Government or a Crisis in Leadership?”Public Opinion 2: 9–15, 60.Google Scholar
  11. ——, A. H. Miller and E. J. Schneider (1980).The American National Election Studies Data Sourcebook, 1952–1978. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Shively, W. Phillips (1979). “The Development of Party Identification among Adults: Exploration of a Functional Model.”The American Political Science Review 73: 1039–1054.Google Scholar
  13. U.S. Bureau of the Census (1975).Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970, Part II, p. Y 1–47. Washington, D.C.: GPO.Google Scholar
  14. —— (1978).Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1978. Washington, D.C.: GPO.Google Scholar
  15. Weisberg, Herbert F. (1979). “The Validity of Voter Registration and Turnout Reports in Surveys.” Presented at the Conference on Voter Turnout, San Diego, California.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Agathon Press, Inc 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Warren E. Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Political Studies, Institute for Social ResearchThe University of MichiganUSA

Personalised recommendations