Is Voting Transformative? Expanding and Meta-Analyzing the Evidence
Voting is the foundational act of democracy. While thousands of studies have treated voting as a dependent variable, comparatively little research has studied voting as an independent variable. Here we flip the causal arrow and explore the effect of exogenous voting shocks on citizens’ broader attitudes and behaviors. To do so, we first use two waves from a uniquely large survey of young people in the United States, pairing this with a regression discontinuity design. We augment these results with a new meta-analysis of all causally-identified studies exploring whether voting is transformative. We find that—despite voting at much higher rates—individuals induced to vote, regardless of the mode used to mobilize, are (precisely) no different from all-else-equal individuals that are not. Our results illuminate the (non)consequences of a vitally important—and widely studied—political behavior and speak to the broader importance of voting as an object of study.
Holbein, JB; Rangel, MA; Moore, R; Croft, M
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