Saturday, January 26, 2008

Why Do US Citizens Vote?

The US Census Bureau published a study in 2000 tracking voting behavior in non-presidential election years from 1966 to 1998. The percentage of the population voting was:


Whites voted more than Blacks, but in 1998 the difference was only 43.3% versus 39.6%. In the highest year of voting, 1966, 57.0% of Whites and 41.7% of Blacks voted. A greater percentage of Blacks than Hispanics and Asians vote.

There is a non-linear correlation between age and voting. The data show four age categories. The peak age for voting in every year is 45 to 64. Above 65, voting turns down by a few percent because of health factors. However, those over 65 are two to three times more likely to vote than those 18 to 24. Voting increases with age until age 65.

In 1998, a slightly higher percentage of females was registered and voted (44.9 percent versus 45.7 percent).

That year, there was a direct correlation between family income and voting. 25.4% of people with family incomes below $5,000 voted, 44.2% of people with incomes from $25,000 to $35,000 voted, 59.6% of people with incomes over $75,000 voted, etc. Also consistent with the income correlation, 51.4% of homeowners voted, while 28.4% of renters voted. People who lived in the same place for at least five years had the highest voting rate, 57.9%, and there was a linear correlation between length of residence and voting. Only 21.3% of the people who lived in their residence for less than one month had voted (presumably they could have voted elsewhere).

The Census Bureau concludes that "people with more education, higher incomes, and employment are more likely to vote":

"In 1998, citizens who had bachelor’s degrees were nearly twice as likely (58 percent)to report that they voted as those who had not completed high school (30 percent). At each level of educational attainment from high school completion and above, voting rates increase significantly. People with bachelor’s and advanced degrees made up 31 percent for those who reported voting in the election, compared with just 10 percent for those who did not graduate from high school. The greater the income of an individual, the higher the propensity to vote. Over 50 percent of citizens living in families whose total income was $50,000 or more reported voting in the election, compared with less than 28 percent of those with a family income of under $10,000. All together, about one-half of those living in families who voted in the November 1998 election had family incomes over $50,000."

This suggests why the Democrats, who favor the more affluent workers and homeowners, have triumphed. The poor simply do not vote, and so inflationist Federal Reserve Bank policies that hurt low-wage workers are simply not debated. For whites, 32.2% of those with under a ninth grade education voted (the percentage for Blacks with less than a ninth grade education was 41.4%), while 70.2% of Whites with advanced degrees voted.

In an opinion survey, the census bureau asks non-voters why they did not vote. 34.9% of voters say that they are too busy, 12.7% say that they are not interested, 11.1% say that they are disabled or ill, 5.5% say that they don't like the candidates, 8.3% say that they are out of town, and 5.3% say that they forgot.

No wonder Ph.D. holders like Peter Levine, Ronald Hayduk and Kevin Mattson favor the "new progressivism" and "deliberative democracy". A more interventionist system would serve their specific interests well, because the political vote weights the opinions of the highly educated much more heavily than does the economic vote. Although the economic vote favors the wealthy over the educated to a greater degree than does the political vote, the political arena is the one where the highly educated professional has the greatest opportunity to wrest benefits from the public. In the end, deliberative democracy is just another special interest pleading. 40.2% of those over 65 say that they were ill or disabled, which explains the higher rate for that age group's not voting. The percentage saying that they are not interested declines by about one third for education, from 15.3% for those without a high school diploma to 10.3% of those with a college degree. 5.7% of those without a high school diploma said that they did not like the candidates while 4.5% of those with a college degree said that they did not like the candidates. 37.6% of college grads said that they were too busy while 21.5% of high school dropouts said that they were too busy.

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