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. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Volume (Year): 121 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (08)
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