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Canadian and American Voting Strategies: Does Institutional Socialization Matter?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 July 2012

Jason Roy*
Wilfrid Laurier University
Shane Singh*
University of Georgia
Jason Roy, Department of Political Science, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo ON N2L 3C5, Canada,
Shane Singh, Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia, Athens GA, 30602, USA,


Abstract. This paper uses data from an online voting experiment to examine the impact of institutional socialization on the vote decision process. More specifically, we examine how Canadian and American voters differ in their vote decision processes in two- and four-party elections. Our expectation is that Canadian voters, who are more familiar with multiparty electoral context, will adjust to the increased complexity of the four-party competition by engaging in a more detailed decision process. Alternatively, we expect US voters, who are less familiar with multiparty competitions, will not undertake such an adjustment, perhaps even engaging in a less detailed vote calculus under more complex conditions. Results lend support to our expectations, offering insight into how institutional design and socialization can affect voter decision processes.

Résumé. Cet article utilise des données tirées d'une expérience de vote en ligne pour examiner l'impact de la socialisation institutionnelle sur le processus décisionnel menant au vote. Nous examinons en particulier comment les électeurs canadiens et américains diffèrent dans leur processus décisionnel lors d'élections à deux et à quatre partis. Nos attentes sont les suivantes : Les électeurs canadiens, plus familiers avec le multipartisme, s'ajusteront à la plus grande complexité d'une élection à quatre partis en s'engageant dans un processus décisionnel plus sophistiqué. Les électeurs américains, quant à eux habitués davantage au bipartisme, ne feront pas de tels ajustements lorsque le contexte électoral se complexifiera et auront peut-être même tendance à simplifier leur processus décisionnel. Nos résultats tendent à confirmer nos attentes, offrant ainsi un aperçu de la façon dont le contexte institutionnel et la socialisation qui en résulte peuvent influencer le processus décisionnel des électeurs.

Research Article
Copyright © Canadian Political Science Association 2012

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