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Race, poverty and unemployment as quantitative predictors of voter turnout in St. Louis amidst COVID-19 and a racial justice movement

Gary Parker (Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, Jerusalem, Israel) (Brown School at Washington University in St Louis, St Louis, Missouri, USA)
Ellen Hutti (Brown School at Washington University in St Louis, St Louis, Missouri, USA)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 24 May 2022

Issue publication date: 23 May 2023

244

Abstract

Purpose

The 2020 election season brought with it a global public health pandemic and a reenergized racial justice movement. Given the social context of the intertwined pandemics of COVID-19 and racialized violence, do the traditional predictors of voter turnout – race, poverty rates and unemployment rates – remain significant?

Design/methodology/approach

Using county-level, publicly available data from twelve Midwest states with similar demographic and cultural characteristics, voter turnout in St. Louis City and St. Louis County were predicted using race, poverty rates and unemployment rates.

Findings

Findings demonstrate that despite high concentration of poverty rates and above average percentages of Black residents, voter turnout was significantly higher than predicted. Additionally, findings contradict previous studies that found higher unemployment rates resulted in higher voter participation rates.

Originality/value

This study suggests that the threat of COVID-19 and fear of an increase in police violence may have introduced physical risk as a new theoretical component to rational choice theory for the general election in 2020.

Keywords

Citation

Parker, G. and Hutti, E. (2023), "Race, poverty and unemployment as quantitative predictors of voter turnout in St. Louis amidst COVID-19 and a racial justice movement", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 43 No. 5/6, pp. 405-417. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-02-2022-0061

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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