The aim of the study is to explore the valence theory’s account of voter turnout using open-ended questions which measured the main reason given by voters for electoral abstention. The focus was on the claim of the valence theory concerning the respondent’s expected benefit from participating in an election. Data from five post-election studies undertaken between 2004 and 2010 are analysed. The empirical results reveal that electoral abstention is explained by four key factors.
Voters and non-voters differ as valence theory suggests because the latter exhibit less interest in politics, less trust in politicians and parties, less knowledge of who to vote for, and a feeling that voting does not change anything. These empirical results are consonant with the predictions made by valence theory and demonstrate that electoral participation is strongly determined by expected benefits.
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