Turnout in Canadian national elections plummeted in the 1990s particularly among young voters. This study argues that a prime cause is a decline in electoral competitiveness due to key changes in the party system. Based on data from the Canadian Election Studies from 1988 to 2004, an encompassing model of turnout was estimated, which includes indicators of party spatial location and riding-level competitiveness, as well as newly eligible voters as reflected through the passage of time.
While competitiveness is an important factor, the decline was more pronounced in Ontario and British Columbia. Other factors considered include indifference/alienation and party initiative in recruitment. New questions are generated about the relative importance of voters’ reckonings and the strategic allocation of resources by parties.
Published in: Electoral Studies, v. 26, no. 4, December 2007, pp. 735-745