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Anxiety and Vote Decision Making in Winner-Take-All Elections

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 August 2014

Delia Dumitrescu*
University of Gothenburg
André Blais*
Université de Montreal
Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Sprängkullsgatan 19, 411 23 Gothenburg, Sweden. Email:
Département de science politique, Université de Montréal, Pavillon Lionel-Groulx, local C-4006, 3150, rue Jean-Brillant, Montréal QC, H3T 1N8, Canada. Email:


We study strategic voting behaviour in winner-take-all elections by means of an original study in which participants vote to collectively decide how much money should be given to an environmental NGO. We find that supporters of the most NGO-friendly party are reluctant to abandon it, despite its poor electoral viability. The poor electoral viability generates significant anxiety among its supporters and the level of anxiety at the time of voting influences their choice. Moderate levels of anxiety increase the probability of defection, but at high levels, anxiety has a paralyzing effect, making voters less likely to abandon their preferred choice.


Nous étudions le vote stratégique dans les élections au scrutin pluralitaire par le biais d'une recherche originale dans le cadre de laquelle les participants votent pour décider combien d'argent sera octroyé à une organisation environnementale. Nous observons que les supporters du parti le plus favorable à l'organisation environnementale hésitent à déserter ce parti, même si ses chances de gagner sont très faibles. La faiblesse électorale du parti génère de l'anxiété chez ses supporters, et cette anxiété à son tour influence leurs choix. Un niveau modéré d'anxiété augmente la propension à déserter le parti, mais un niveau élevé d'anxiété a un effet paralysant, incitant les électeurs à demeurer fidèles à leur parti préféré.

Research Article
Copyright © Canadian Political Science Association (l'Association canadienne de science politique) and/et la Société québécoise de science politique 2014 

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