People’s active participation in elections is one of the key measures of electoral democracy. The people’s lack of interests or apathy in elections tends to undervalue the democratic process, engender mistrust in political institutions, and enthrone unaccountable leadership. This is why voter turnout is a crucial aspect of electoral studies. Even though Nigeria has successfully undergone two decades of uninterrupted democracy, she may not be too fast in imbibing the tenets of electoral democracy which presupposes active people’s participation in the electoral process. This is because there has been a conspicuous decline in voter turnouts in presidential elections since 2003. There are several factors responsible for this decline. This paper analysed three key variables – violence, socioeconomic factors, and candidate’s popularity - with the use of Multivariate Correlation Analysis (a statistical procedure that calculates correlation coefficients of two or more variables to determine the strengths of their relationships). The study, therefore, finds that of the three variables, candidate’s popularity as indicated by voters’ preferences for candidate’s/running mate’s tribe, political party, and trust in candidate’s abilities provide stronger evidence of the declining turnouts in Nigerian presidential elections.
Keywords: Voter turnouts, legitimacy, Nigerian presidential election, candidates’ popularity, violence, socioeconomic factors.