The Journal of Politics

Research Notes

From Core to Periphery: A Note on The Imagery of Concentric Electorates

Lee Sigelmana1 and Malcolm E. Jewella1

a1 University of Kentucky


Data on the voting patterns of 115,800 Kentuckians over a sample of ten elections are used to test the idea that the electorate expands and contracts from election to election in a manner suggested by the imagery of concentric circles. According to that idea, first expounded by Angus Campbell, the differential incorporation of peripheral voters, who enter the electorate in progressively higher-stimulus elections, is what accounts for inter-election differences in turnout. The concentric circles imagery suggests that voting in a series of ten elections should form a scale in the cumulative or Guttman sense, but analysis is not supportive of this idea. The reality of voting in a series of elections appears to be more complex than the concentric circles idea suggests.