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Trends in U.S. Voting Attitudes with a Consideration of Variation by Gender and Race/Ethnicity

DOI: 10.4236/ojps.2016.64038, PP. 454-465

Keywords: U.S., Voting Attitudes, Gender, Race/Ethnicity

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Abstract:

Low turnout rates and discussions of disaffected voters are receiving considerable attention as we approach the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Do trends in American’s attitudes about voting and correlates of these attitudes (political involvement, efficacy, and social connectedness) confirm the pessimistic assessments and do voters across gender and race/ethnic groups think similarly? Data from the American National Election Studies (ANES) provide some reason for optimism. Trends over the past few presidential election periods show a majority of Americans intend to vote and this majority is increasing. Trends show increases or stability on numerous correlates of voting attitudes including political involvement and social connectedness. Trends in voting attitudes by gender and race/ethnicity show considerable variation. Women and race/ethnic minorities (especially African Americans) are an important element of the positive trends shown here. Findings on external efficacy are an exception to the generally optimistic trends with data showing a majority of respondents don’t believe public officials care what people like the respondent think. However, trends do not show an increase in negative attitudes about public officials. Implications of the findings are considered.

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