Gubernatorial and Senatorial Campaign Mobilization of Voters

Jackson, Robert A.
December 2002
Political Research Quarterly;Dec2002, Vol. 55 Issue 4, p825
Academic Journal
This article examines the rote of gubernatorial and U.S. Senate campaigns in mobilizing voters in the 1990, 1992, 1994, and 1996 elections. Merging contextual measures on these campaigns with data from the Voter Supplement Files of the November Current Population Surveys, I find that statewide campaigns are especially important for activating citizens in midterms. An off-year campaign environment that is associated with hotly-contested, high-spending campaigns elevates citizens' turnout probabilities by double-digit points. However, a presidential race provides an overriding stimulus that gets to the polls most of those citizens who can be activated, as state-level races demonstrate negligible mobilizing influence in the on-years. I also find that previous looks into the influence of campaign context on individual turnout are based on "biased" tests of statistical significance. Failure to take into account state "clusters" in national samples results in downwardly biased standard errors and, consequently, upwardly biased t-/z-values for state-level campaign coefficients. Finally, I consider the two-stage nature of electoral participation in the U.S.: (1) registration followed by (2) turnout among those who are registered. The activating influence of campaigns operates primarily at the second stage.


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