Jacob Montgomery and Min Hee Seo. 2022. “Closeness and Strategic Participation: Does the Relative Closeness of the US Presidential Elections Shape Where College Students Register to Vote?” Journal of Politics, 84, 2, Pp.1250-1255.
Existing research shows that participation rates are higher in competitive electoral contexts. However, it is difficult to disentangle whether this contextual effect is a function of geographic heterogeneity or the strategic incentives for participation that individuals face in close elections. In this article, we partially circumvent this dilemma by focusing on out-of-state college students facing the choice of where to cast their vote. Using a novel survey and administrative records for over 1 million out-of-state students, we show that individuals attending college in a state where the election is more competitive than in their home state are more likely to register in their campus state, consistent with theories of strategic behavior. We argue that by focusing on this population and this question we are better able to assess the relationship between strategic incentives and political behavior while holding constant state-specific context.