The Mobilization of Congressional Electorates
Legislative Studies Quarterly XXI: 425-45

This study examines voter turnout in congressional districts during the 1988 and 1990 elections. Drawing heavily from studies of congressional campaign finance and vote outcomes, the analyses demonstrate the importance of campaign context. In addition to the fundamental influence of sociodemographic factors (e.g., district education level and population density) on turnout, vigorous campaigns waged by strategic elites increase political excitement and the flow of information, which in turn spur aggregate participation. In races where the House incumbent faces opposition, incumbent efforts (measured as campaign expenditures) have a significant and positive influence on turnout. The strategic position of the challenger has both direct and indirect effects on voter turnout, with a strong challenge translating into heavier turnout. In a nonpresidential year, high-profile senatorial and gubernatorial campaigns also get out district voters. However, a presidential contest provides a largely overriding stimulus that diminishes the influence of these state-level races on voter turnout.