Voting and Voter Decision-Making

Authors: Lilleker, D.G.

Pages: 177-197

DOI: 10.1057/9781137313430_10


It is a simple fact of the secret ballot system that in reality we have no idea what factors determine precisely why people vote the way they do; in fact this is true for most behaviour. All academia is able to do is develop models based on self-declared behaviour and correlate behaviour with a range of attitudinal, demographic and other variables, including ones related to the receipt, comprehension and acceptance of campaign communication. While there are many sophisticated ways for tracking a range of behaviours, purchasing being the most obvious in the era of online shopping and loyalty cards, the cognitive processes that govern the selection of who to vote for are one of the great unknowns. In the UK in 1992 pollsters famously got it wrong declaring a Labour victory; one reason given for the difference between the declared and actual result was that many people simply did not want to admit voting for the Conservatives, the ‘nasty’ party, but did so for selfish as opposed to communitarian reasons (Newton, 1993). While this may be the case, or actually the pollsters may have failed in gaining a representative sample, it indicates that the secrecy of the ballot is for many sacrosanct. Concerns have also been raised that some voters may experience the hovering pencil effect. Although they feel one candidate may be the best there is one element about them that makes them think twice.

Source: Scopus