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Abstention, Protest, and Residual Votes in the 2016 Election

Stewart, Charles, III and Alvarez, R. Michael and Pettigrew, Stephen S. and Wimpy, Cameron (2020) Abstention, Protest, and Residual Votes in the 2016 Election. Social Science Quarterly, 101 (2). pp. 925-939. ISSN 0038-4941. doi:10.1111/ssqu.12757.

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Objective: We analyze the significant increase in the residual vote rate in the 2016 presidential election. The residual vote rate, which is the percentage of ballots cast in a presidential election that contain no vote for president, rose nationwide from 0.99 to 1.41 percent between 2012 and 2016. Method: We use election return data and public opinion data to examine why the residual vote rate increased in 2016. Results: The primary explanation for this rise is an increase in abstentions, which we argue results primarily from disaffected Republican voters rather than alienated Democratic voters. In addition, other factors related to election administration and electoral competition explain variation in the residual vote rates across states, particularly the use of mail/absentee ballots and the lack of competition at the top of the ticket in nonbattleground states. However, we note that the rise in the residual vote rate was not due to changes in voting technologies. Conclusion: Our research has implications for the use of the residual vote as a metric for studying election administration and voting technologies.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Alvarez, R. Michael0000-0002-8113-4451
Additional Information:© 2019 by the Southwestern Social Science Association. Issue Online: 24 March 2020; Version of Record online: 23 December 2019.
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200109-081757732
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Official Citation:Stewart, C., III, Alvarez, R.M., Pettigrew, S.S. and Wimpy, C. (2020), Abstention, Protest, and Residual Votes in the 2016 Election. Social Science Quarterly, 101: 925-939. doi:10.1111/ssqu.12757
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:100573
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:09 Jan 2020 21:24
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:54

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