Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

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

  • Delia Dumitrescu (a1) and André Blais (a2)

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.

Corresponding author
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:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

R. Michael Alvarez , Frederick J. Boehmke and Jonathan Nagler . 2006. “Strategic voting in British elections.Electoral Studies 25: 119.

André Blais . 2002. “Why Is There So Little Strategic Voting in Canadian Plurality Rule Elections?Political Studies 50: 445–54.

André Blais and Richard Nadeau . 1996. “Measuring strategic voting: A two-step procedure.Electoral Studies 15: 3952.

André Blais , Eugénie Dostie-Goulet and Marc André Bodet . 2009Voting Strategically in Canada and Britain.” In Duverger's Law of Plurality Voting: The Logic of Party Competition in Canada, India, the United Kingdom and the United States, ed. Bernard Grofman , André Blais and Shaun Bowler . New York: Springer.

André Blais , Simon Labbé-St-Vincent , Laslier Jean-François , Nicolas Sauger and Karine Van der Straeten . 2011. “Strategic Vote Choice in One-Round and Two-Round Elections.Political Research Quarterly 64: 637–45.

Ted Brader . 2005. “Striking a responsive chord: How political ads motivate and persuade voters by appealing to emotions.American Journal of Political Science 49: 388405.

James N. Druckman and Rose McDermott . 2008. “Emotion and the Framing of Risky Choice.Political Behavior 30: 297321.

John Duffy and Margit Tavits . 2008. “Beliefs and Voting Decisions: A Test of the Pivotal Voter Model.American Journal of Political Science 52: 603–18.

Eric Groenendyk . 2011. “Current Emotion Research in Political Science: How Emotions Help Democracy Overcome its Collective Action Problem.Emotion Review 3: 455–63.

Roberta Q. Herzberg and Rick K. Wilson . 1988. “Results on Sophisticated Voting in an Experimental Setting.Journal of Politics 50: 471–86.

Michael MacKuen , George E. Marcus , W. Russell Neuman and Luke Keele . 2007. “The third way: The theory of affective intelligence and American democracy.” In The affect effect: Dynamics of emotion in political thinking and behavior, ed. W. R. Neuman , George E. Marcus , Michael MacKuen and Ann Crigler . Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

George E. Marcus , Michael MacKuen and W. Russell Neuman . 2011. “Parsimony and Complexity: Developing and Testing Theories of Affective Intelligence.Political Psychology 32: 323–36.

W. Russell Neuman , ed. 2007. The affect effect: Dynamics of emotion in political thinking and behavior. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Thomas R. Palfrey 2009. “Laboratory Experiments in Political Economy.The Annual Review of Political Science 12: 379–88.

Karine Van der Straeten , Laslier Jean-François , Sauger Nicolas and Blais André . 2010. “Strategic, Sincere, and Heuristic Voting under Four Election Rules: An Experimental Study.Social Choice and Welfare 35: 435–72.

Recommend this journal

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

Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-political-science-revue-canadienne-de-science-politique
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Dumitrescu and Blais Supplementary Material

 Word (183 KB)
183 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 4
Total number of PDF views: 30 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 117 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.