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Correct Voting Across Thirty-Three Democracies: A Preliminary Analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 March 2013


This article extends Lau and Redlawsk's notion of correct voting – whether voters, under conditions of uncertainty, choose the alternative they would have chosen had they been fully informed about the issues and candidates in that election – to sixty-nine elections in thirty-three established and emerging democracies around the world. At the individual level, political sophistication, political experience and motivation all significantly predict the probability of casting a correct vote. However several institutional factors proved to be even more important. In particular, elections with more parties running – and settings that encourage candidate-centred voting – decrease the probability of correct voting, while more ideologically distinctive alternatives, clearer lines of responsibility and greater media access to information are associated with higher rates of correct voting.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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Political Science Department, Rutgers University (email:; Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University; Political Science Department, Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus; Department of Political Science, Rutgers University. We thank especially Bill Clark, Andy Murphy and Al Tillery for commenting on earlier versions of this manuscript, along with various audience members and discussants at the Midwest Political Science Association, and at Florida State, Oxford, Princeton and Rutgers Universities, where earlier versions of this article were presented. All syntax commands to create the datasets utilized in this paper from the CSES datafiles, along with replication datasets, are available at An online appendix is available at


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39 ‘Major’ is defined by the local experts who conducted the surveys. If survey questions were asked about a candidate/party contesting the election, we included that candidate/party in our analysis. Respondents who voted for other ‘minor’ parties are treated as missing, as are non-voters.

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