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Survey participation, electoral participation, and political interest have been given wide attention in the research literature, but no one so far has combined these three variables in one model. Taking the social isolation-hypothesis as our starting point, we developed a model with one factor, social involvement, as the common factor underlying these three types of participation. We reviewed the literature and concluded that we had to include a second underlying factor: attachment to society. Using a new data set, gathered on the occasion of the 1998 Dutch national elections and including validated voter turnout measures, we were able to test the model. After making some adaptions, we found a model with a satisfactory fit. The results show that, by including social involvement and attachment to society as mediating variables, we can reach much higher levels of explained variances of survey and electoral participation than we can with traditional models. The results also add to our understanding of the relationship between survey and electoral participation and political interest.
Although we appreciate the attention the critic has given to our paper, we are somewhat disappointed about the kind of criticism. It is said that the ‘empirical analysis is fundamentally flawed’. But if the analysis is flawed it must be very easy to show it by a reanalysis of the data. However, if one takes the time to look at the data used in this study one can see immediately that when the USSR's level of armaments is very low the USA is producing large amounts of missiles. On the other hand, when the USSR has a large number of missiles the USA's production is nil or very little. Consequently one must conclude that the USA cannot possibly be reacting to the activities of the USSR in the simple ways suggested by Richardson or Hamblin et al. This result was confirmed by our statistical analysis of the data. One can of course try other statistical procedures, as we did, but they all produce the same result: there is no reaction effect in the USA's behaviour.
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