Customer Reviews: Who Votes? (Yale Fastback Series)
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on December 16, 1998
Although it is now almost 20 years old, "Who Votes" is still the definitive book on voting in America. Better than anyone Wolfinger and Rosenstone tease out the various factors that make people more or less likely to vote. Along the way they dispose of some myths (blacks don't vote as much as whites, relaxed registration laws benefit Democrats), and give evidence for the validity of others (educated people vote more). Although an academic work, their writing style is clear and readable. Read in conjunction with Anthony Downs' "An Economic Theory of Democracy" (which is much less readable), the two books provide much of what needs to be known about voting in America.
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Who Votes? is a classic study on American voting patterns. Coming out two decades ago, the authors did a phenomenal job with limited data and computing power. I definitely salute their effort. However, I'd be a bit careful of taking this as the final word in voting behavior. As the authors acknowledge, there are reasons people might vote (such as receiving patronage) that aren't well represented in the American political system. Still, it's telling that political scientists still read this book three decades after its initial publication in order to understand voting.
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