Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-768ffcd9cc-6vg6l Total loading time: 0.415 Render date: 2022-12-02T09:04:50.733Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Definition and Measurement of Tactical Voting: The Role of Rational Choice

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 April 2004

STEPHEN D. FISHER
Affiliation:
Department of Sociology, University of Oxford

Abstract

There has been substantial debate on the measurement of tactical voting in this Journal, much of which has actually been concerned with the definition of a tactical vote. For this reason it is necessary to go ‘back to basics’ to examine the notion of a tactical vote within rational choice theory and follow its implications for the measurement of tactical voting. This Note has four aims: to elucidate the formal theoretical concepts behind the notion of tactical voting; to provide a practical definition of tactical voting based on those concepts; to examine and use the implications of the theory and definition to evaluate existing measures of tactical voting; and to further appraise measures of tactical voting from general methodological considerations. This Note focuses on tactical voting in single-member simple-plurality electoral systems. The following section argues that the range of situations where it may be optimal to vote tactically is both broader and less well defined than previous authors have generally realized. This implies that both the definition, and therefore the measurement, of tactical voting rest mainly on the criteria of voting for a party other than the first choice and doing so in order to best influence who wins. The empirical section examines various approaches to the measurement of tactical voting and argues that the Heath et al. measure is a priori the most attractive available. Furthermore, detailed analysis using British Election Study (BES) data from English voters in 1987, 1992 and 1997, shows that whilst the Heath et al. measure is relatively robust, it can be usefully revised to improve consistency with the strength-of-feeling scores. A corresponding method for identifying a voter's preferred party is also presented.

Type
Notes and Comments
Copyright
© 2004 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
63
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Definition and Measurement of Tactical Voting: The Role of Rational Choice
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Definition and Measurement of Tactical Voting: The Role of Rational Choice
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Definition and Measurement of Tactical Voting: The Role of Rational Choice
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *