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Expectations and Preferences in British General Elections

  • Richard Nadeau (a1), Richard G. Niemi (a2) and Timothy Amato (a3)
Abstract

We address two questions: How do people form their expectations about the likely winner of the next general election? and What are the links between expectations and votes? Using data collected by the Gallup organization in Great Britain, we find that the expectations formation process (1) has a significant inertia component but also a rapid adjustment to current information; (2) reflects voters' ability to translate economic expectations into political forecasts; and (3) is “time-bounded,” possessing special characteristics immediately before and after a general election. The analysis also confirms the existence of a small bandwagon effect, whereby expectations that one party will win inflate that party's vote. The ability of voters to make reasonable forecasts without being unduly influenced by their own preferences suggests that under normal circumstances voters are expressing real preferences and not simply following the crowd.

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
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