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Polls, Coalition Signals, and Strategic Voting: An Experimental Investigation of Perceptions and Effects

Listed author(s):
  • Meffert, Michael F.


    (Sonderforschungsbereich 504)

  • Gschwend, Thomas


    (Sonderforschungsbereich 504)

The paper investigates how poll information and coalition signals affect strategic voting, defined as casting a vote for a party other than the most preferred party to better influence the election outcome. In particular if the outcome of an election is perceived to be close, voters in multi-party systems with proportional representation and coalition governments should have an incentive to cast a vote for the party that best influences the formation of the next government. The study focuses in particular on voters’ attention to and perception of polls and coalition signals sent by parties before elections. The study used an innovative design that embedded a laboratory experiment in two real election campaigns, allowing the manipulation of poll results and coalition signals in a realistic environment. The findings suggest that political sophistication plays a crucial role for the accurate perception of polls and strategic voting. Coalition signals are found to have a surprisingly strong effect on (apparently) strategic voting.

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Paper provided by Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim & Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim in its series Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications with number 07-63.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 26 Sep 2007
Handle: RePEc:xrs:sfbmaa:07-63
Note: Financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SFB 504, at the University of Mannheim, is gratefully acknowledged.
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