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date: 25 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter stresses the necessity of distinguishing between a strategic vote and a strategic voter. The sincere voter always casts a sincere vote, while the strategic voter casts a sincere or strategic vote depending on the context and the voting rule. This leads to two definitions of strategic voting: a broad one, where a strategic vote is one that is partly based on expectations about the outcome of the election, and a narrow one, where a strategic vote also entails not voting sincerely. The chapter then reviews three types of empirical research that differ with respect to the type of data used: the observation of electoral outcomes, survey data, and lab experiments. That literature has confirmed that indeed some voters cast a strategic vote, though many studies have found most votes to be sincere. That research has also shown that there is some degree of strategic voting under all kinds of voting rules; that, contrary to conventional wisdom, there is as much strategic voting under proportional representation as under plurality rule; and that the propensity to vote strategically depends very much on the type of information that is available.

Keywords: strategic voting, sincere voting, elections, electoral systems, polls, voting rules, mechanical effect, psychological effect, preferences, expectations

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