, Volume 114, Issue 3-4, pp 275-293

Issues, the Spatial Theory of Voting, and British General Elections: A Comparison of Proximity and Directional Models

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Competing spatial models of voter choiceare compared in the context ofparliamentary representatives selectedthrough single-member district, pluralityelections where party platforms areemphasized over individual candidates.Respondents of the 1987, 1992, and 1997British general election surveys ratepolitical parties on a series of issuescales. Ordered logistic regressions ofparty evaluations under proximity,directional, and mixed models reveal thatthe classic spatial model and thedirectional model perform equally well.Differences center on perceptions of thestatus quo, as voters appear to evaluatethe incumbent party (here, theConservatives) slightly differently thanminority parties (Labour and the LiberalDemocrats). The proximity model worksbetter for voter evaluations of governingparties while the directional model workswell for opposition parties.