the best that can be achieved. Commercial exploitation of thernterm “research” no doubt adds to the general climate in whichrnpeople have increasingly resisted being accomplices in what arernperceived as the manipulative efforts of “superpollsters”—rnHarris, Gallup, etc. There are a varietv of explanations forrnthis, ranging from a greater reliance on telephone versus in-personrninterviews, the need to probe attitudes more carefully, tornthe discovery of inherent biases in the survey interview itself, allrnof which have lowered the credibility of such undertakings.rnThe presumption that nonvoters are virtual twins of their votingrncounterparts strengthens the presumed validity of surveysrnthat rely on “likely voters,” such as telephone surveys andrnsmaller-scale samplings that reduce costs.rnWithin the limited confines of our discussion, we cannotrnfull} assay the welter of empirical studies of voting “behavior,”rnbut merely allude to some of the implications that the increasernin nonvoting has generated, hi the main, the alarmrnover turnout decline centers on two arguments. First, thatrninformed, motivated, and concerned citizens find the staternof the political system such that participation in it is futile; thernelectorate is not at fault, the system is. A second argument isrnthat the quality of voters has declined relative to the quality ofrnnonvoters. Granted the former view of “dropouts” from arnfailed political system, this development is seen as a danger,rnsince worthy citizens abdicate their positions to an equal massrnof unworthy citizens. For example, many voters who enterrnelection campaigns at the last moment are lacking in basicrnknowledge (are “unsophisticated”—a large majority cannotrnidentify the Secretary of State or does not know whether Englandrnis a monarchy or a democracy), and thus respond readilyrnto the glitzy manipulative ads and media-created images ofrncandidates rather than forming thoughtful evaluations basedrnon careful examination of facts and policy positions.rnTo blame the electorate for the quality of political candidatesrnor campaigns is to suggest that historically higher levelsrnof voting reflected more than the role of urban party machinesrnthat, by honest and dishonest means, “delivered” votes. Onernmight reasonably assert that the higher expectations of therncontemporary era call for more thoughtful and discriminatingrnactions on the part of voters, which in turn imply a higherrnlevel of independence from party control, hi fact, these are therntrends precisely in evidence over the past three decades.rnA major explanation for the decline in voting and the subsequentrnrise in nonvoting is the failure of either the Democraticrnor the Republican parties to sustain the kind of intergenerationalrnloyalty that characterized so much of earlierrnAmerican political culture. Since the first election of DwightrnEisenhower in 1952, the past four decades have witnessed arngrowing number of persons eschewing a singular or consistentrnpartisan identity. If party allegiance is seen as the focal dynamicrnof American politics, then it follows that the growingrnnumber of voters who may temporarily float and then shiftrnto the other party become the group that provides the object ofrnelection campaigns and, perforce, the “vital center” of U. S.rndemocracy. What is posited as the pattern of shift involvesrn”disengagement” (meaning a lowered voting level) followed byrnattachment to the new party, which is known as “realignment.”rnAccordingly, m 1968, many Democrats sat out thatrnyear’s election; there were 12 million less Democratic votersrncompared to 1964. In the intervening 24 years, the Democratsrnhave failed to regain the lost voters.rnA rationale for continued party allegiance is that societyrndemands—even more than intelligent participation—socialrnorder. In this view, voting is a social ritual that symbolizesrnthe individual’s membership and entitlement in the social arrangements,rnincluding those services and markets that formrnthe essential elements of a viable society. Nonvoting in thisrnview is discouraged but tacitly accepted as the price of a stable,rnmiddle-of-the-road existence.rnAny discussion of nonvoting would be hopelessly muddledrnif some sharp differentiation were not made betweenrnpersons who consciously choose not to select a candidaternamong those available because of the particulars of policy,rnpersonality, or power that the act of voting may entail andrnthose persons who are indifferent to the political system bvrnvirtue of their lifestyle or lack of civic commitment. We shallrnuse the terms “principled abstainers” for the former and “apatheties”rnfor the latter.rnBy “principled,” we adopt the aphorism provided us byrnLord Acton; “A principle is a rule of inaction giving valid reasonrnfor not doing in a specific instance, what to unprincipledrninstinct, would seem to be right.” Accordingly, to act withoutrncareful forethought is not the epitome of citizenship, especiallyrnwhen choosing not to act may be a more meaningfulrnevent in terms of the health of the body politic. Followingrnthis definition, many voters are acting out of knee-jerk partisanship,rnlast-minute “selling” by the mass media, or simplyrnthe social conformity that calls for voting as a response tornbandwagon fashion-consciousness.rnIn the political science literature on voter turnout, “apathy”rnand “principled abstention” are frequently intertwined.rnThus, one researcher on “Apathy in America,” writes thatrn”from 1964 to 1984, Americans who were both apathetic andrnconvinced they had little or no clout in the political process abstainedrnfrom voting.” Subsequent to this assertion, the authorrnrecognizes that he is dealing with two differing phenomena:rn”the numbers of both the indifferent and the politically inefficaciousrnswelled after 1964.”rnYet, the most extensive effort to identify and describe nonvotingrnin more than quantitative terms is Arthur Hadley’s ThernEmpty Polling Booth, focusing upon the 1976 presidential election.rnIn speaking of “positive apathetics,” f ladley says their demographiesrnmatch voters while their attitudes differ, that theyrnare nevertheless “as happv as voters.” Hadley concludes thatrnsuch non’Otcrs feel more politically powerful than voters since,rn”at present their lives are too full for the act of voting to seemrnimportant.” Affluent and satisfied for the moment, these individualsrnvote in large numbers only if their present pleasuresrnare threatened, when “they will react like any sleeping giantrngoaded awake.”rnA critical question, therefore, is whether the increasing numberrnof nonvoters reflects growing apathy or a failure of the politicalrnsystem to respond to the requirements of an increasinglyrnsophisticated and demanding electorate. Hadley notesrnthat while most nonvoters arc in the “apathetic” category, arnsignificant minority of the nonvoters pay close attention tornpolities and are highly critical. He cites former supporters ofrnGeorge Wallace as precisely this type of nonvoter. (My ownrntabulations indicate that states with the highest Wallace vote inrn1968 had the highest nonvoter percentages in the presidentialrnelection of 1988.)rnEvidence regarding the growth of the “principled abstainer”rnnonvoter might well be discerned using two yardsticks. First,rn18/CHRONICLESrnrnrn