Income Inequality Affects Voter Turnout!

We have noticed that money has become dangerously intertwined with politics, but studies find that the spiraling imbalance between rich and poor may only worsen the democratic political process we so much value as Americans.

As Ari Berman at The Nation notes,

“Electoral politics and the 2012 presidential election have become almost exclusively defined by the 1 percent. Or, to be more precise, the .000063 percent. Those are the 196 individual donors who have provided nearly 80 percent of the money raised by Super PACs in 2011 by giving $100,000 or more each.”

The OECD Better Life Index states that that high voter turnout is a measure of public trust in government and of a citizen’s participation in politics and that high voter turnout also promotes democracy and legitimacy of a government. Their research finds that:

“How well-off you are also affects how likely you are to vote. Voter turnout generally increases with individual income and on average there is a 7% difference between the top 20% of the population and the bottom 20%. This gap reaches 32% in Korea and 28% in the United States.”

In response to the OECD reports, Bryce Covert at The Nation comments:

“Those whose income is in the top 20 percent experience a near 100 percent turnout rate, making full use of their right to vote. But the rate for those in the bottom group is less than three-quarters. That makes for a whopping 28 percent gap between the two on Election Day, which again seems only to be beaten by South Korea.”

As wealth influences politics to favor the rich, and the rich can now purchase the American vote with post-Citizen’s United SuperPACs, together with the defunding of education and other public services ~ we should expect to see a further weakening of the democratic political process.


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