Socio-economic Factors, Digital Space and Voters: Evidence from Nigeria
Civic participation often manifests in voting, protests, and contesting for electoral positions and activism. Theorists and empirics agree that the socio-economic conditions of the people can shape civic participation. Mixed results from previous studies relied on voter turnouts as indicators of voter behaviour. Our study analysed the relationship between digital space, socio-economic discontent, and voter behaviour among young people. Specifically, we undertook an empirical investigation to understand how discontent shapes voter behaviour in Nigeria using quantitative data from the sub-national level and across six geo-political zones in Nigeria. The analytical methodology of data analysis is novel to the literature, using statistical and qualitative techniques across different election cycles. Using key variables like voter registration and socio-economic factors, we found evidence of widening polarisation gaps among Nigerian voters, largely due to the influence of digital space and socio-economic discontent in the country. Our empirical data shows an inverse relationship between socio-economic factors and voter turnout in off-cycle elections, aligning with the underlying withdrawal effect theory. We also found socio-economic factors are negatively correlated with voter registration. The outcome can lead to voter apathy among young and middle-aged voters.