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Rational Voters and Strategic Voting: Evidence from the 1968, 1980, and 1992 Elections

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Ordeshook, Peter C.; Zeng, Langche
Date: 1994
Agency: Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
Series: Social Science Working Paper 901
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/5796
Sector: Social Organization
Region: North America
Subject(s): elections
rationality
voting
Abstract: "Is the rational choice paradigm more than a mere tautology when applied to the study of voting or can it generate refutable propositions that cannot be deduced or inferred from other approaches? This is the question we address empirically in the context of three-candidate presidential elections. Although we reconfirm the conclusion that the decision to vote is largely a consumptive one, we also establish that once in the voting booth, voters act strategically in precisely the ways predicted by a Downsian model of voting. That is, although expected utility calculations and the like add little to our understanding of the decision to vote, those same calculations have a significant influence on the decision for whom to vote, over and above such things as partisanship."

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