Strategic voting in plurality elections


Journal Article

This paper extends the Calculus of Voting of McKelvey and Ordeshook, providing the first direct derivation of the conditions under which voters will vote strategically: choose their second-most preferred candidate in order to prevent their least-preferred candidate from winning. Addressing this theoretical problem is important, as nearly all empirical research on strategic voting either implicitly or explicitly tests hypotheses which originate from this seminal model. The formal result allows us to isolate the subset of voters to which strategic voting hypotheses properly apply and in turn motivates a critical reevaluation of past empirical work. In making this argument, we develop a unified and parsimonious framework for understanding competing models of tactical voter choice. The typology helps to elucidate the methodological difficulties in studying tactical behavior when faced with heterogeneous explanatory models and suggests the need for both theoretical caution and more precise data instruments in future empirical work. © The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Political Methodology. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kselman, D; Niou, E

Published Date

  • November 12, 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 18 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 227 - 244

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1476-4989

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1047-1987

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/pan/mpp027

Citation Source

  • Scopus