Voter turnout is always a big issue in elections. Is there any evidence that the condition of the economy effects just how many people decide to vote? N.C. State University Mike Walden takes a look at the issue.
“Well, this has long been an idea in political science and economic circles. And I think the short answer is definitely yes — but perhaps for not the way that some people think. There’s some new research that looks at voting and when people vote. And one of the things the research recognizes is that voting, although it is free in the sense that if you’re a citizen you can vote, it takes time, and time is money.
“So, one reason why people don’t vote, quite frankly, is they don’t want to stand in line. They don’t want to take the time out of their day to go vote. Therefore, what the new research suggests is perhaps when unemployment is low and incomes are rising, that means that people’s time is more valuable because they’ve got work to do and that we might actually see voting suffer in economic good times.
“Conversely when the economy is bad, unemployment is high and … people perhaps don’t have a job to go to so they got more leisure time or free time, more likely we’ll see the rate of voting go up.
“And that’s exactly what their research has found, particularly for national House of Representative elections. Interestingly what they found — they found no relationship between these ideas and the presidential election turnout. So, something to think about … not only do our concerns about the economy obviously motivate us to be interested in elections, but also in terms of the value of our time, how that changes and how that might motivate us or demotivate us to go vote.”