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Ralph Bunche Journal of Public Affairs

Abstract

A historic increase in African American voter turnout in the 2008 presidential elections has also contributed to the overall increase in voter turnout in presidential elections, which steadily declined from 1960 through 2000. Using a logistic regression analysis for presidential years 1980 through 2000, this article re-examines why voter turnout in presidential election years take place. The traditional and well-established explanations of socioeconomic status (SES), demographics, group consciousness, mobilization, psychological orientations, and economic displacement, were regressed onto voter turnout where race is deemed insignificant. However, in a closer analysis where income was used to separate the voting age population by class, race is the most significant factor. Unexpectedly, this model revealed that low-income African Americans are more likely to vote than any other group, and middle and upper-income African Americans are least likely to vote. These findings run contrary to the dominant theories on voter turnout, most notably, the SES theory.

 

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