Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Ethnicity and the Swing Vote in Africa’s Emerging Democracies: Evidence from Kenya


Who are Africa’s swing voters? This article argues that in settings where ethnicity is politically salient, core and swing are defined by whether ethnic groups have a co-ethnic leader in the election. For members of ethnic groups with a co-ethnic in the race, there is typically less uncertainty about which party or candidate will best represent the group’s interests. For members of groups without a co-ethnic in the race, uncertainty is often greater, making these voters potentially more receptive to campaign persuasion and more likely to change voting intentions during the campaign. Consistent with these expectations, panel data from Kenya’s 2013 presidential election shows that voters from groups without a co-ethnic in the race were more than two and a half times more likely to change their voting intentions during the campaign period.

Hide All

Government Department, Dartmouth College (email: For suggestions and feedback, I gratefully acknowledge three anonymous reviewers, Leo Arriola, Karen Ferree, Jeff Conroy-Krutz, Elena Gadjanova, Kris Inman, Brendan Nyhan, Yusaku Horiuchi, Ryan Jablonski, Kristin Michelitch, Carolyn Logan, seminar participants at Dartmouth, Northwestern and SOAS, and conference participants at APSA, MPSA and ASA. For help in designing and implementing the panel survey in Kenya, I thank Melissa Baker and the staff at TNS-RMS in Nairobi. For research assistance, I thank Peter Saisi, Alex Minsk, Miriam Kilimo and Precious Kilimo. Data replication sets are available in Harvard Dataverse at: http://doi:10.7910/DVN/ZYCCZM and online appendices are available at

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Horowitz supplementary material 1

 PDF (214 KB)
214 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 26 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 217 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 24th August 2017 - 21st September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.