This article adapts and tests the theory of enlightened preferences on two British electoral cycles: 1992–97 and 1997–2001. Using individual-level panel data, it extends previous work by explicitly incorporating the role of political knowledge. Its findings are generally very supportive of the theory. It is shown that knowledge of party platforms varies through both electoral cycles in a manner predicted by the theory; that is, it is highest immediately following election campaigns; these changes in political knowledge are closely mirrored by changes in the explanatory power of a model of party choice containing so-called ‘fundamental variables’ (i.e. socio-demographic and issue-related variables) as predictors. More specifically, fundamental variables do a much better job of accounting for party choice during election years than in mid-cycle. Finally, for all years of both panels a positive interaction is found between political knowledge and the ability of voters to match their issue preferences to party platforms.
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