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Ballot Roll-off in Intermediate Appellate Court Elections
Unformatted Document Text:  14 Table 3 also supplies convincing evidence that institutional incentives determine citizen participation in IAC elections. Congruent with supreme court elections, partisan and retention elections produce less roll-off than do nonpartisan elections. Controlling for the other variables in the model, roll-off declines by almost 7 percent in partisan races compared to nonpartisan races (p < .01); the estimate for retention races is an 11 percent reduction (p < .01). These results are close to Hall’s (2007) findings for supreme court elections. In nonpartisan elections, voters have neither the valuable cue partisanship provides nor the forced choice of a yes-no option that is present in retention elections, elevating the probability of abstention. Interestingly, however, contrary to our expectations, the partisan cue does not seem to be more helpful in IAC races than in supreme court contests. Perhaps this is because, although media coverage of supreme court elections is greater than IAC elections, even the top-level appellate court races tend to be sparsely covered by the media (Schaffner and Diascro 2007). Finally, in terms of jurisdictional context, district elections are associated with higher roll-rates, but the relationship is not statistically significant. In order to better understand how the institutional and election context of the race influences participation in IAC elections, Table 4 depicts ballot roll-off under various election scenarios. These estimates are based on differences in the values of the variables representing the presence of an incumbent, type of race (partisan, nonpartisan or retention), whether the race was contested, and if it was competitive, with all other variables in the model reported in Table 3 set at their appropriate means and modes. The conditions that generate the highest roll-off percentage (41.07) occur when there is not a previously elected incumbent on the ballot, the race is not contested, and it is nonpartisan. Roll-off in contested, uncompetitive nonpartisan elections drops roughly 20 percent (21.97). It declines even further when the winning candidate receives

Authors: Streb, Matthew., Frederick, Brian. and LaFrance, Casey.
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14
Table 3 also supplies convincing evidence that institutional incentives determine citizen
participation in IAC elections. Congruent with supreme court elections, partisan and retention
elections produce less roll-off than do nonpartisan elections. Controlling for the other variables
in the model, roll-off declines by almost 7 percent in partisan races compared to nonpartisan
races (p < .01); the estimate for retention races is an 11 percent reduction (p < .01). These results
are close to Hall’s (2007) findings for supreme court elections. In nonpartisan elections, voters
have neither the valuable cue partisanship provides nor the forced choice of a yes-no option that
is present in retention elections, elevating the probability of abstention. Interestingly, however,
contrary to our expectations, the partisan cue does not seem to be more helpful in IAC races than
in supreme court contests. Perhaps this is because, although media coverage of supreme court
elections is greater than IAC elections, even the top-level appellate court races tend to be
sparsely covered by the media (Schaffner and Diascro 2007). Finally, in terms of jurisdictional
context, district elections are associated with higher roll-rates, but the relationship is not
statistically significant.
In order to better understand how the institutional and election context of the race
influences participation in IAC elections, Table 4 depicts ballot roll-off under various election
scenarios. These estimates are based on differences in the values of the variables representing
the presence of an incumbent, type of race (partisan, nonpartisan or retention), whether the race
was contested, and if it was competitive, with all other variables in the model reported in Table 3
set at their appropriate means and modes. The conditions that generate the highest roll-off
percentage (41.07) occur when there is not a previously elected incumbent on the ballot, the race
is not contested, and it is nonpartisan. Roll-off in contested, uncompetitive nonpartisan elections
drops roughly 20 percent (21.97). It declines even further when the winning candidate receives


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