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White Paper on Voter Participation

Introduction
When you ask people who they can trust these days it is usually not a positive answer.
The government, neighbors, the common person on the street, even your restaurants get constant
scrutiny for doing their job. Even though many people share this ideology in America is a very
pessimistic viewpoint in todays culture. Media puts everything out there and makes it easy to
find out secret information about different entities that are both true and untrue. With all of these
things going into play the government is the one who takes the largest blow and each year t is
getting worse. Living in the new technology era has made it extremely easy to find and expose
confidential information to the average public reader so, every time a mistake has come from the
government is has been blown out of proportion. This possibly relates directly to one of the
biggest growing problems in the country right now which is political participation. Citizens from
ages 18-90 are choosing not to participate in the political elections for this very reason and this is
a growing problem. There could be many reasons for why people are not showing up to vote and
why the number has dramatically dropped over the years. A major reason could possibly be
social trust issues which is the ability to trust ones fellow citizen and if the integrity of this trust
is in any such effected it could have detrimental consequences on the trust for those peoples
leaders. Honestly how does one expect to trust the government when they cant trust the person
standing 3 feet to their left? This brings the question, does the social trust of American citizens
have a direct negative effect on voter interest for presidential elections? My hypothesis is that
those individuals having low levels of social trust with their fellow citizen are less likely to care
who wins the presidential election for the United States because in a sense they do not believe in
what they would be voting for. If these American citizens who are supposed to be voting to
improve their country and get their words and ideas out there are begging to believe it is
pointless to participate in presidential elections because of this. That is why the lack of social
trust could possibly effect political participation and have negative effect on voter interest. This
white paper serves to give an overall explanation for this exact point. With quantitative data we
will be able to see how low levels of social trust effect the voter participation rate.

Background
To see how this hypothesis will play out I used the data set NES2004 that I found on The
University of Texas at San Antonio computer labs. To test this topic you will have to measure
both the independent variable which is social trust and the dependent variable which is how
many people care who wins the presidential election. This study will be focused on the general
public with citizens only between the age of 18 and 90 years of age. First we have the number of
people who care who wins the presidential elections. This is more of the basic yes or no research
question development when it comes to finding out who does and doesnt vote. For our
frequency table it we will use the choices 1 = care a good deal and 3 = dont care very much.
These numbers are used to give us a better look at the average by giving an entire number inbetween the two targeted results. To test this nominal statistic of social trust the question is asked
how much social trust you have in the United States Government scale from the measures 0 to 3.
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Starting with 0 = low trust, 1 = medium low trust, 2 = medium high trust, and 3 = high trust. This
will tell how people feel on a scale when ranking their social trust levels for their fellow citizen
and give us a better idea when it comes to finding an overall idea of how citizens feel. First
starting with social trust weakness can be found because we are not putting factors such as
ethnicity, social class, or gender into the equation. Also because we are looking at the broad
presidential election it leaves state and local elections out of our calculations. All of these factors
could have extreme differences on ones ideology when it comes to trusting other individuals and
those who are in charge especially sketchy politicians. There are also strengths to this research
because making the researched individuals completely random it makes no bias when it comes to
finding out the general population and trust levels. You also cant forget that the research
involves different generations with different mentalities making it difficult to come together on
certain topics. When it comes to caring who wins the presidential election, the same assumptions
can be called weaknesses because we are looking at the population as a whole instead of
individual ethnicities, social classes, or genders. Also exposure to media and debate or even
political knowledge is unaccounted for and we are just looking at the broader presidential
election and not at the state level which could have different results from the different levels. The
strength to finding this variable is that each randomly polled individual is just a citizen in this
country which makes it random and once again polling for the random majority instead a certain
section of the population. When it comes to age being cross examined in the data we will be able
to tell how each generation thinks about political participation. These measurements are valid for
attempting to find the reason behind the decline in public participation and seeing if it is directly
correlated to the social trust level of the American citizens. By looking at these three variables
we will be able to learn whether or not social trust has a direct effect on political participation in
presidential elections.

Results and Relevance


The data that we have collected relating to social trust, who cares about the presidential
elections, and the age of voters is linked together showing a negative effect on political
participation. Age also plays a role as the different generations have different ideology about
voting. It is evident that social trust has a negative effect on the amount of people who care
about politics causing a decrease in the voter turnout. The null hypothesis can be rejected
because there is a level of significance between the data collected from each and every aspect.
With these finding more questions can be asked when it comes to voter turnout relating to
ethnicity, social class, gender, and even the amount of media exposure. These different
ideologies can go hand in hand with social trust deterring how they are effected when it comes to
political participation. It would take much more in depth information to confirm these findings.
If something doesnt change concerning the lowering levels of social trust we could have future
larger problems when it comes to finding and electing presidential officials who actually
represent the ideology of majority of the American population Also more questions such as how
does different economical areas effect political turnout out and social trust, how do citizens from
each state feel about social trust and the presidential election, or even how does gender effect the
ideologies of social trust and political participation? Two possible solutions that could help turn
things around are finding a way to get the youth involved in political participation and also
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finding a way to keep the governmental blemishes off the internet. The political system is not
made or students and young professionals and it is obvious why politicians only go after the pre
millenniums. The votes are with the older American citizens so, if there was a way to get the
citizens under 30 more involved that would dramatically change the voter participation.
Secondly, the United States government needs to try and stay off the web a little bit harder. It is
hard to actually want to get involved with an establishment that screws over its citizens
constantly and seems to really have no direction for its future or the future of the youth in this
country.

Literature Cited
Hansford, T., & Gomez, B. (2010). Estimating the Electoral Effects of Voter Turnout. The
American Political Science Review, 104(2), 268-288.
Dalton, R. (2005). The Social Transformation of Trust in Government. International Review of
Sociology, 15(1), 133-154.
Rickard, S. J. (2012). Electoral systems, voters' interests and geographic dispersion. British
Journal of Political Science, 42(4), 855-877.

Goldberg, S. B. (1993, 06). Voter registration. ABA Journal, 79, 87.


Panagopoulos, C., Larimer, C., & Condon, M. (2013). Social Pressure, Descriptive Norms, and
Voter Mobilization. Political Behavior, 36(2), 451-469

X
X

Control

Pearson
Correlation

Sig. (2-tailed)
N
Control Pearson
Correlation

1043
-.229**

-.299**

-.125**

.000

.000

1036

1039

.093**

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

1036

1200

1039

-.125**

.093**

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

.001

1039

1195

Pearson
Correlation

.001

1207

Table 1. Descriptive Statistics


N
Care who wins presidential
election
Social Trust
Age

Minimum, Maximum
Mean
s.d.
1, 3
1.29
.703
1043
1200

0, 3
18 , 90

1.72
32

1.173
17.176

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