a1 Stanford University
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)
Sarah F. Anzia is a Ph.D. candidate in political science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305.