The Journal of Politics

ARTICLES

Election Timing and the Electoral Influence of Interest Groups

Sarah F. Anziaa1

a1 Stanford University

Abstract

It is an established fact that off-cycle elections attract lower voter turnout than on-cycle elections. I argue that the decrease in turnout that accompanies off-cycle election timing creates a strategic opportunity for organized interest groups. Members of interest groups with a large stake in an election outcome turn out at high rates regardless of election timing, and their efforts to mobilize and persuade voters have a greater impact when turnout is low. Consequently, policy made by officials elected in off-cycle elections should be more favorable to the dominant interest group in a polity than policy made by officials elected in on-cycle elections. I test this theory using data on school district elections in the United States, in which teacher unions are the dominant interest group. I find that districts with off-cycle elections pay experienced teachers over 3% more than districts that hold on-cycle elections.

(Online publication May 13 2011)

Footnotes

Sarah F. Anzia is a Ph.D. candidate in political science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305.

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