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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Are Nonvoters Dissatisfied or Just Disengaged?

  • Author(s): Lopes, Lunna;
  • McGhee, Eric
  • et al.

The question of how to best convert nonvoters into voters is one that continues to plague civicorganizations and political campaigns. Many feel that distrust and anger toward governmentmust be part of what keeps voters from participating, since trust is low and turnout is low. Wetest this idea using data from statewide surveys conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California(PPIC). The results suggest that nonvoters are actually somewhat more trusting of government,even independent of political interest. This finding is not robust to further statisticalcontrols, but no analysis suggests that higher trust is associated with higher turnout. This suggestsrethinking strategies for drawing these non-voters more consistently into the electorate.

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