Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Turnout in Local Elections: Evidence from Canadian Cities, 2004–2014

  • Sandra Breux (a1), Jérôme Couture (a2) and Royce Koop (a3)

Abstract

We provide the first wide-scale analysis of the factors that influence voter turnout in Canadian local elections. Drawing on original data from 300 municipal elections conducted from 2004 to 2014, we use ordinary least squares regression with panel-corrected standard errors for time series cross-sections to test explanatory hypotheses related to differences in institutional design, the social-spatial context of these elections, and local competitiveness. Our results show that, although institutional and sociospatial factors influence local turnout, the competitiveness of elections exercises the greatest influence on local electoral participation.

Cet article dresse un premier portrait systématique des facteurs explicatifs de la participation électorale à l’échelle municipale au Canada. À partir d’une analyse de régression de type O.L.S. avec P.C.S.E portant sur les 100 plus grandes villes canadiennes entre 2004 et 2014 (N = 300), nous testons trois grands types d'hypothèses reliées 1) au contexte institutionnel; 2) au contexte socio-spatial et 3) à la compétitivité de l'élection. Notre analyse révèle que les facteurs institutionnels et socio-spatiaux détiennent une influence sur la participation électorale à l’échelle municipale et que la compétitivité de l’élection est l’élément qui exerce l’influence la plus importante.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Institut National de Recherche Scientifique, Centre Urbanisation Culture et Société, 385 rue Sherbrooke Est, Montréal QP, H2X 1E3, email: sandra.breux@ucs.inrs.ca
Université Laval and INRS-UCS, 385 rue Sherbrooke Est, Montréal PQ, H2X 1E3, email: jerome.couture@pol.ulaval.ca
Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba, 532 Fletcher Argue, Winnipeg MB, R3 T 2N2, email: royce.koop@umanitoba.ca

References

Hide All
Achen, Christopher H. and Shively, W. Phillips. 1995. Cross-Level Inference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Beck, Nathaniel, and Katz, Jonathan N.. 1995. “What to do (and not to do) with time-series cross-section data.” American Journal of Political Science 89 (3): 634–47.
Blank, R.H. 1974. “Socio-Economic Determinism of Voting Turnout: A Challenge.” Journal of Politics 36: 731–52.
Breux, Sandra and Couture, Jérôme. 2014. “Explaining invalid votes in a non-politicized context and in a low-tunout environment: The case of one municipal Canadian election.” Political Studies Association annual congress, University of Manchester, Manchester, April 19.
Breux, Sandra, Couture, Jérôme and Goodman, Nicole. 2016. “Fewer voters, higher stakes? The applicability of rational choice for voter turnout in Quebec municipalities.” Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy : First view.
Breux, Sandra, Couture, Jérôme and Bherer, Laurence. 2014. Les candidats sortants : atouts ou obstacles à la participation électorale. Canadian Journal of Urban Research 23 (2): 5978.
Cancela, J. and Geys, Benny. 2016. “Explaining voter turnout: A meta-analysis of national and subnational elections.” Electoral Studies 42: 264–75.
Caren, Neil. 2007. “Big City, Big Turnout? Electoral Participation in American Cities.” Journal of Urban Affairs 29 (1): 3146.
Caruna, Nicholas, McGregor, R. Michael, Moore, Aaron A. and Stephenson, Laura B.. 2015. “Voting ‘Ford’ or Against: Understanding Strategic Voting in the 2014 Toronto Municipal Election.” Paper prepared for the Canadian Political Science Association annual conference, Ottawa, June 2–4.
Champagne, Patrick. 2007. Les élections municipales 2005: Au-delà des apparences, ed. MAMR. Québec: Gouvernement du Québec.
Collin, Jean-Pierre, Léveillée, Jacques, Rivard, Mathieu and Robertson, Mélanie. 2003. L'organisation municipale au Canada: Un régime à géométrie variable, entre tradition et transformation. Montréal: Groupe de recherche sur l'innovation municipale.
Couture, Jérôme, Breux, Sandra and Bherer, Laurence. 2014. Analyse écologique des déterminants de la participation électorale municipale au Québec. Revue canadienne de science politique 47 (4): 787812.
Cutler, Fred. 2008. “Whodunnit? Voters and Responsibility in Canadian Federalism.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 41 (3): 627–54.
Cutler, Fred, and Matthews, J. Scott. 2005. “The Challenge of Municipal Voting: Vancouver 2002.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 38 (2): 359–82.
Dostie-Goulet, Eugénie, Blais, André, Fournier, Patrick and Gidengil, Elisabeth. 2013. “L'abstention sélective, ou pourquoi certains jeunes qui votent au fédéral boudent les élections municipales.” Revue canadienne de science politique 45 (4): 909–27.
Eggers, Andrew C. 2015. “Proportionality and Turnout: Evidence from French Municipalities.” Comparative Political Studies 48 (2): 135–67.
Eidelman, Gabriel, and Taylor, Zack. 2010. “Canadian Urban Politics: Another “Black Hole”? Journal of Urban Affairs 32 (3): 305–20.
Frandsen, Annie Gaardsted. 2002. “Size and electoral participation in local elections.” Environment and planning C: Government and Policy 20: 853–69.
Frederickson, H. George and Johnson, Gary A.. 2001. “The Adapted American City: A Study of Instititional Dynamics.” Urban Affairs Review 36: 872–84.
Germann, Sebastian. 2016. “Concurrent Elections and Turnout: Causal estimates from a German quasi-experiment.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 126 (A): 167–78.
Geys, Benny. 2006. “Explaining voter turnout: A review of aggregate-level research.” Electoral Studies 25: 637–63.
Benny, Geys. 2012. “Success and failure in electoral competition: Selective issue emphasis under incomplete issue ownership.” Electoral Studies 31: 406–12.
Hajnal, Zoltan and Lewis, Paul. 2003. “Municipal Institutions and Voter Turnout in Local Elections.” Urban Affairs Review 38 (5): 645–68.
Hajnal, Zoltan, Lewis, Paul G. and Louch, Hugh. 2002. Municipal Elections in California: Turnout, Timing and Competition. San Francisco: Public Policy Institute of California.
McGregor, Michael and Spicer, Zachary. 2016. “The Canadian Homevoter: Property Values and Municipal Politics in Canada.” Journal of Urban Affairs 38 (1): 123–39.
McGregor, R. Michael, Moore, Aaron A. and Stephenson, Laura B.. 2016. “Political Attitudes and Behaviour in a Non-Partisan Environment: Toronto 2014.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 49 (2): 311–33.
Merrifield, John. 1993. “The institutional and political factors that influence voter turnout.” Public Choice 77 (3): 657–67.
Milner, Henry. 1997. “Electoral Systems, Integrated Institutions and Turnout in Local and National Elections: Canada in Comparative Perspective.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 30 (1): 89106.
Moore, Aaron A., McGregor, Michael and Stephenson, Laura B. (forthcoming). “Paying Attention and the Incumbency Effect: Voting Behaviour in the 2014 Toronto Municipal Election.” International Review of Political Science.
Nakhaie, Reza M. 2006. “Electoral Participation in Municipal, Provincial and Federal Elections in Canada.” Revue canadienne de science politique 39 (2): 363–90.
Nikolenyi, Csaba. 2010. “Concurrent Elections and Voter Turnout: The Effect of the De-Linking of State Elections on Electoral Participation in India's Parliamentary Polls, 1971–2004.” Political Studies 58 (1): 214–33.
Oliver, J. Eric. 2001. Democracy in Suburbia. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
Oliver, J. Eric, Ha, Shang E. and Callen, Zachary. 2012. Local Elections and the Politics of Small Scale Democracy. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.
Rallings, Colin and Thrasher, Michael. 2005. “Not all ‘second order’ contests are the same: Turnout and Party Choice at the Concurrent 2004 Local and European Parliament Elections in England.” The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 7 (4): 584–97.
Sancton, Andrew and Young, Robert, eds. 2009. Foundations of Governance. Municipal Government in Canada's Provinces. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Selb, Peter. 2009. “A Deeper Look at the Proportionality-Turnout Nexus.” Comparative Political Studies 42 (4): 527–48.
Sellers, Jeffrey and Lidström, Anders. 2008. “Decentralization, Local Government and the Welfare State.” Governance 20: 609–32.
Sproule-Jones, Mark. 2007. “Political Parties at the Local Level of Government.” Canadian Parties in Transition, ed. Gagnon, Alain G. and Tanguay, A. Brian. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Tavares, Antonio and Carr, Jered. 2012. “So close, yet so far away ? The effects of city size, density and growth on local civic participation.” Journal of Urban Affairs 35 (3):283302.
Trounstine, Jessica. 2006. “Dominant Regimes and the Demise of Urban Democracy.” Journal of Politics 68 (4): 879–93.
Jessica, Trounstine. 2008. Political Monopolies in American Cities: The Rise and Fall of Bosses and Reformers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Trounstine, Jessica. 2009. “All politics is local: The re-emergence of the study of city politics.” Perspectives on Politics 7 (3): 611–18.
Walks, Alan. 2013Metropolitan Political Ecology and Contextual Effects in Canada.” In The Political Ecology of the Metropolis, ed. Sellers, Jeffrey, Kübler, Daniel, Walter-Rogg, Mélanie and Walks, Alan. Colchester UK and New York: ECPR/Columbia University Press.
Wood, Curtis. 2002. “Voter Turnout in City Elections.” Urban Affairs Review 38 (2): 209–31.

Turnout in Local Elections: Evidence from Canadian Cities, 2004–2014

  • Sandra Breux (a1), Jérôme Couture (a2) and Royce Koop (a3)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed