Friday, November 30, 2007

Do Political Scientists Vote More Often?

Well, I was hoping to work up a post today on the voting behavior of political scientists, but so far the only literature I can find on this is old and hideous -- and now I have to dash off to Cal State Long Beach to give a talk (on the moral behavior of ethicists)!

So a tidbit: Henry A. Turner and Charles B. Spaulding (1969) mailed questionnaires to academics in various disciplines, asking people about their voting histories. 61% of the questionnaires were returned (ah, the good old days!). 89% of the respondents said they voted in 1956 and 91% of the respondents said they voted in 1960. Were political scientists the most likely to have said they voted? Nope! Geologists were (95% and 97% in the two elections). The methodological shortcomings of this study are left as an exercise for the reader.

Chasing threads through citation databases, I found a cluster of articles in the same general vein in the 1960s and 1970s -- mostly focusing on the party affiliations of the respondents (overwhelmingly Democrat in the humanities). Then the citation thread peters out....

Hopefully next week I can dig up something more recent and methodologically better. Or will it be up to me? Surely someone must have studied whether political scientists actually vote!

(You ask why I care? Well, beside its being intrinsically interesting, I need a comparison group for when I go hunt down the data on whether political philosophers are more likely than others to vote.)

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