Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Canadian and American Voting Strategies: Does Institutional Socialization Matter?

  • Jason Roy (a1) and Shane Singh (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 30 July 2012

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.

Corresponding author
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,
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.

David A. Armstrong and Raymond M. Duch . 2010. “Why Can Voters Anticipate Post-Election Coalition Formation Likelihoods.” Electoral Studies 29: 308–15.

Matias A. Bargsted and Orit Kedar . 2009. “Coalition-Targeted Duvergerian Voting: How Expectations Affect Voter Choice under Proportional Representation.” American Journal of Political Science 53: 307–23.

Larry M. Bartels 1996. “Uninformed Votes: Information Effects in Presidential Elections.” American Journal of Political Science 40: 194230.

André Blais and R.K. Carty . 1990. “Does Proportional Representation Foster Voter Turnout?European Journal of Political Research 18: 167–81.

André Blais and Agnieszka Dobrzynska . 1998. “Turnout in Electoral Democracies.” European Journal of Political Research 33: 239–62.

André Blais , Elisabeth Gidengil , Patrick Fournier and Neil Nevitte . 2009. “Information, Visibility and Elections: Why Electoral Outcomes Differ When Voters Are Better Informed.” European Journal of Political Research 48: 256–80.

Cheryl Boudreau . 2009a. “Closing the Gap: When Do Cues Eliminate Differences between Sophisticated and Unsophisticated Citizens?Journal of Politics 71: 964–76.

Cheryl Boudreau . 2009b. “Making Citizens Smart: When Do Institutions Improve Unsophisticated Citizens' Decisions?Political Behavior 31: 287306.

Philip E. Converse 2006. “Democratic Theory and Electoral Reality.” Critical Review 18: 297329.

Fred Cutler . 2002. “The Simplest Shortcut of All: Voter-Candidate Socio-Demographic Similarity and Electoral Choice.” Journal of Politics 64: 466–90.

Kris Dunn , Salomon Orellana and Shane Singh . 2009. “Legislative Diversity and Social Tolerance: How Multiparty Systems Lead to Tolerant Citizens.” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 19: 283312.

Benny Geys and Bruno Heyndels . 2006. “Disentangling the Effects of Political Fragmentation on Voter Turnout: The Flemish Municipal Elections.” Economics and Politics 18: 367–87.

Timothy Hellwig . 2008. “Globalization, Policy Constraints and Vote Choice.” Journal of Politics 70: 1128–41.

Robert W. Jackman and Ross A. Miller . 1995. “Voter Turnout in the Industrial Democracies During the 1980s.” Comparative Political Studies 27: 467–92.

Stephen A. Jessee 2010. “Partisan Bias, Political Information and Spatial Voting in the 2008 Presidential Election.” Journal of Politics 72: 327–40.

Karen Long Jusko and W. Phillips Shively . 2005. “Applying a Two-Step Strategy to the Analysis of Cross-National Public Opinion Data.” Political Analysis 13: 327–44.

James H. Kuklinski and Paul J. Quirk . 2000. “Reconsidering the Rational Public: Cognition, Heuristics, and Mass Opinion.” In Elements of Reason, ed. Arthur Lupia , Mathew McCubbins and Samuel Popkin . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Romain Lachat . 2008. “The Impact of Party Polarization on Ideological Voting.” Electoral Studies 27: 687–98.

Richard R. Lau , David J. Andersen and David P. Redlawsk . 2008. “An Exploration of Correct Voting in Recent U.S. Presidential Elections.” American Journal of Political Science 52: 395411.

Howard Lavine , Eugene Borgida and John L. Sullivan . 2000. “On the Relationship between Attitude Involvement and Attitude Accessibility: Toward a Cognitive-Motivational Model of Political Information Processing.” Political Psychology 21: 81106.

René Marois and Jason Ivanoff . 2005. “Capacity Limits of Information Processing in the Brain.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 9: 296305.

Byongook Moon . 2006. “The Influence of Organizational Socialization on Police Officers' Acceptance of Community Policing.” Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management 29: 704–22.

John W. Payne 1976. “Task Complexity and Contingent Processing in Decision-Making: An Information Search and Protocol Analysis.” Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 16: 366–87.

Mark Peffley and Robert Rohrschneider . 2003. “Democratization and Political Tolerance in Seventeen Countries: A Multi-Level Model of Democratic Learning.” Political Research Quarterly 56: 243–57.

G. Bingham Powell and Guy D. Whitten . 1993. “A Cross-National Analysis of Economic Voting: Taking Account of the Political Context.” American Journal of Political Science 37: 391414.

David P. Redlawsk 2002. “Hot Cognition or Cool Consideration? Testing the Effects of Motivated Reasoning on Political Decision Making.” Journal of Politics 64: 1021–44.

David Redlawsk . 2004. “What Voters Do: Information Search During Election Campaigns.” Political Psychology 25: 595610.

Herbert A. Simon 1955. “A Behavioral Model of Rational Choice.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 69: 99118.

Matthew M. Singer 2011. “Who Says “It's the Economy”? Cross-National and Cross-Individual Variation in the Salience of Economic Performance.” Comparative Political Studies 44.11: 14741499.

Shane P. Singh 2010. “Contextual Influences on the Decision Calculus: A Cross-National Examination of Proximity Voting.” Electoral Studies 29: 425–34.

Bernhard Weßels , and Hermann Schmitt . 2008. “Meaningful Choices, Political Supply, and Institutional Effectiveness.” Electoral Studies 27: 1930.

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? *