Following a historic election, we return again to the question of turnout. Who turned out in large numbers to shift power in the House back to the Democrats? What we know about the past is that there are substantial gaps in turnout between different groups. White Americans have turned out in larger numbers that many other racial and ethnic groups. This much is well-know, but what explains these gaps? Is it political interest, barrier to voting, or something else?
Such is the focus of Bernard Fraga
’s new book The Turnout Gap: Race, Ethnicity, and Political Inequality in a Diversifying America
(Cambridge University Press, 2018). Fraga is assistant professor of political science at Indiana University.
Fraga finds that the common explanations don’t always hold up when you examine rigorous data and use advanced methods. He argues for a theory of electoral influence
based on the relative size of the racial and ethnic population in a voting district. In districts where minority groups make up a relatively small portion of the electorate, turnout tends to be low. In other districts, where the group makes up a larger portion, turnout tends to be much higher. These findings, and others, explain a lot about the 2018 election and future elections and campaigns.