Television and Voter Turnout
I use variation across markets in the timing of television's introduction to identify its impact on voter turnout. The estimated effect is significantly negative, accounting for between a quarter and a half of the total decline in turnout since the 1950s. I argue that substitution away from other media with more political coverage provides a plausible mechanism linking television to voting. As evidence for this, I show that the entry of television in a market coincided with sharp drops in consumption of newspapers and radio, and in political knowledge as measured by election surveys. I also show that both the information and turnout effects were largest in off-year congressional elections, which receive extensive coverage in newspapers but little or no coverage on television.
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Volume (Year): 121 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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