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Everything is Uncertain and Uncertainty is Everything: Strategic Voting in Simple Plurality Elections

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  • David P. Myatt
  • Stephen D. Fisher

Abstract

Intuition tells us that strategic voting is most likely in marginal constituencies where the preferred party is a long way behind the second placed parity. Some formal theories suggest there should be complete desertion of all but two candidates (Palfrey 1989), or additionally that the second and third will have similar vote shares (Cox 1997). Unfortunately, these theories fail to account for uncertainty over the strength of candidates. We present a model that allows for such uncertainty. It generates interesting and original comparative statics. All three approaches are tested against English voting data from 1987, 1992 and 1997. Our model fits the data; the standard intuition and Cox hypothesis do not. Thus formal theory can improve on intuition. But, this depends on the realization that voters are uncertain, and it is only uncertainty that matters for strategic voting.

Suggested Citation

  • David P. Myatt & Stephen D. Fisher, 2002. "Everything is Uncertain and Uncertainty is Everything: Strategic Voting in Simple Plurality Elections," Economics Series Working Papers 115, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:115
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper115.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Myerson, Roger B. & Weber, Robert J., 1993. "A Theory of Voting Equilibria," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 87(1), pages 102-114, March.
    2. Franklin, Mark & Niemi, Richard & Whitten, Guy, 1994. "The Two Faces of Tactical Voting," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(4), pages 549-557, October.
    3. David P. Myatt, 2000. "The New Theory of Strategic Voting," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1586, Econometric Society.
    4. Riker, William H. & Ordeshook, Peter C., 1968. "A Theory of the Calculus of Voting," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 25-42, March.
    5. Riker, William H. & Ordeshook, Peter C., 1968. "A Theory of the Calculus of Voting," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 25-42, March.
    6. Niemi, Richard & Whitten, Guy & Franklin, Mark, 1993. "People Who Live in Glass Houses: A Response to Evans and Heath's Critique of our Note on Tactical Voting," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(4), pages 549-553, October.
    7. Evans, Geoffrey & Heath, Anthony, 1993. "A Tactical Error in the Analysis of Tactical Voting: A Response to Niemi, Whitten and Franklin," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(1), pages 131-137, January.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. David P. Myatt & Stephen D. Fisher, 2002. "Tactical Coordination in Plurality Electoral Systems," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(4), pages 504-522.
    2. Lehtinen, Aki, 2008. "The welfare consequences of strategic behaviour under approval and plurality voting," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 688-704, September.
    3. Aki Lehtinen, 2007. "The Borda rule is also intended for dishonest men," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 133(1), pages 73-90, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    strategic voting; tactical voting; Duverger’s Law; plurality rule; elections;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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