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Internal and External Effects on the Accuracy of NES Turnout: Reply

  • Barry C. Burden (a1)

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In an earlier issue of this journal I brought attention to the fact that estimates of voter turnout in U.S. presidential elections from the National Election Study (NES) series have been increasingly biased. Although researchers had already noted that the NES overestimated turnout, I was concerned with the growing severity of the problem. While admitting that other factors were at work, my explanation centered on the representativeness of surveys, in particular that selection bias in the sample is correlated with the likelihood of voting (Burden 2000). Martinez (2003) and McDonald (2003) offer three possible additions to my argument. First, panel effects are responsible for particularly egregious discrepancies in a few presidential elections, particularly in the 1996 survey. Second, official turnout statistics that rely on the Voting Age Population (VAP) are themselves biased and lack perfect comparability with the NES. Third, the degree of misreporting might also depend on actual voter turnout.

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Anderson, Barbara A., and Silver, Brian D. 1986. “Measurement and Mismeasurement of the Validity of the Self-Reported Vote.” American Journal of Political Science 80:771785.
Burden, Barry C. 2000. “Voter Turnout and the National Election Studies.” Political Analysis 8:389398.
Finkel, Steven, and Freedman, Paul. 2002. “The Half-Hearted Rise: Voter Turnout in the 2000 Election.” Presented at the Conference on Assessing the Vitality of Electoral Democracy in the U.S., Columbus, OH.
Martinez, Michael D. 2003. “Comment on ‘Voter Turnout and the National Election Studies.’” Political Analysis 11:187192.
McDonald, Michael P. 2001. “An External Validity Check of the National Election Study's Turnout Rate.” Unpublished manuscript. University of Illinois-Springfield.
McDonald, Michael P. 2003. “On the Overreport Bias of the National Election Study Turnout Rate.” Political Analysis 11:180186.
McDonald, Michael P., and Popkin, Samuel L. 2001. “The Myth of the Vanishing Voter.” American Political Science Review 95:963974.
Visser, Penny S., Krosnick, Jon A., Marquette, Jesse, and Curtin, Michael A. 1996. “Mail Surveys for Election Forecasting? An Evaluation of the Columbus Dispatch Poll.” Public Opinion Quarterly 60:181227.
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Internal and External Effects on the Accuracy of NES Turnout: Reply

  • Barry C. Burden (a1)

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