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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Older Homeowners Dominate Local Elections

 The Gray Vote: How Older Home-Owning VotersDominate Local ElectionsKatherine Levine Einstein∗Maxwell Palmer†Ellis Hamilton‡Ethan Singer


Local elections are widely recognized as low turnout affairs compared with their national level counterparts. But, scholars have little systematic national data on the composition of the local electorate, and how compositional disparities may vary by context. In this paper, we use a national voter file to compare turnout in general, midterm, and off-cycle local elections in over 500 cities. We provide novel estimates of turnout gaps by race, age, and homeownership status in local elections, and identify stark inequalities compared with national and state elections. We find sizable turnout gaps both by age and homeownership status at the local levels, far exceeding those in national contests. Turnout disparities by age and homeownership status are twice as large as those between Black and white voters, and are considerably larger in off-cycle contests.