Political Behavior

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 141–157 | Cite as

The sources of tactical voting in British parliamentary elections, 1983–1987

  • David J. Lanoue
  • Shaun Bowler


Using data from the UK General Election Surveys of 1983 and 1987, we present a critical test of different approaches to tactical voting. Specifically, we are concerned with how the competitive situation in each constituency affects voters' likelihood of voting tactically, as well as the role of voters' attitudes and personal characteristics. We find that voters are less sensitive to the actual marginality of a district than to whether or not their party has a chance of winning the seat. In addition, we find that party identification, and particularly intense loyalty, dampen the tendency to vote tactically, regardless of the type of district. We also consider differences in tactical voting between constituencies where Labour dominates vs. districts where the Conservatives are strongest. Finally, we discuss the broader implications of these findings for the study of voting behavior.


General Election Personal Characteristic Critical Test Vote Behavior Broad Implication 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Lanoue
    • 1
  • Shaun Bowler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaRiverside

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