Tags: voting | participation | engagement | social media

Study: Politically Active Voters Don't Hold Majority Views

By    |   Monday, 29 Dec 2014 02:04 PM

Citizens who are politically active beyond simply voting in elections are motivated by different policy preferences than the less active majority, according to a study reported in The Washington Post.

The study, part of the Scholars Strategy Network, found four types of voting participators and said those that have a high level of communication with lawmakers tend to be motivated by different issues than the voters whose only political activity is voting.

"Our study shows that we can't assume that high-communicating voters represent the policy concerns of all voters," the study's authors wrote. "Our work also suggests that elected officials hear different messages from people participating in different ways, with potential consequences for politics."

Roughly 50-60 percent of Americans vote in presidential elections, while only 35-40 percent vote in midterm elections. Of those voters, 76 percent are classified as "low engaged" or those unlikely to be politically active beyond voting.

"All-around activists," or people who are highly active in all participatory opportunities, constitute 5 percent of voters.

"Traditional campaigners" are the 8 percent of voters who are active mainly in offline campaign activity.

"Persuaders" are highly engaged in online methods to communicate directly to representatives, and they make up 12 percent of voters, according to the study.

On policy issues in the 2008 campaign, the study found that all-around activists consistently reported different policy views from those who "only" vote. Traditional campaigners and persuaders were also different from low-engaged voters on the issues of environment and abortion.

The greatest difference in policy preferences among the different types of political participants was on tax policy.

To date, most research has focused on the link between voting and policy outcomes and has found that voting does make a difference in policy outcomes on issues such as welfare-benefit levels, for example.

The results of this study, however, raise more questions about the impact of voting as compared to other forms of political activity, with the implication being that it would be misleading to assume that voting is the main mechanism which determines policy outcomes.

"Citizens appear to specialize in different types of participation and, as a result, convey different policy positions to government officials.

"Without understanding the mix of the messages conveyed to elected officials, we are unsure how effective the vote, or any other sort of political activity, is in democratic politics in the country today," the authors concluded.

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Citizens who are politically active beyond simply voting in elections are motivated by different policy preferences than the less active majority, according to a study reported in The Washington Post.
voting, participation, engagement, social media
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2014-04-29
Monday, 29 Dec 2014 02:04 PM
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