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A new approach to measure tactical voting: evidence from the British elections

Daniel Müller and Lionel Page ()

Applied Economics, 2015, vol. 47, issue 36, 3839-3858

Abstract: Although tactical voting attracts a great deal of attention, it is very hard to measure as it requires knowledge of both individuals' voting choices as well as their unobserved preferences. In this article, we present a simple empirical strategy to nonparametrically identify tactical voting patterns directly from balloting results. This approach allows us to study the magnitude and direction of strategic voting as well as to verify which information voters and parties take into account to determine marginal constituencies. We show that tactical voting played a significant role in the 2010 election, mainly for Liberal-Democratic voters supporting Labour. Moreover, our results suggest that voters seem to form their expectations based on a national swing in vote shares rather than newspaper guides published in the main media outlets or previous election outcomes. We also present some evidence that suggests that campaign spending is not driving tactical voting.

Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2015.1019037

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