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Protest voting in plurality elections: a theory of voter signaling

Abstract

This paper develops a model of protest voting in which unsatisfied voters may abandon their most-preferred candidate even though he or she has a good chance of winning, in the hope that this signal of disaffection will lead to downstream improvements in that candidate’s performance. We use a spatial model to identify voters whose ideological profile makes protest voting an option, and an expected utility model to identify the conditions under which potential protest voters will in fact use their vote as a signaling device. Aggregate-level data provide suggestive evidence in the argument’s favor.

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Correspondence to Daniel Kselman.

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Kselman, D., Niou, E. Protest voting in plurality elections: a theory of voter signaling. Public Choice 148, 395–418 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-010-9661-2

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Keywords

  • Strategic voting
  • Protest voting
  • Electoral signaling
  • Spatial theory
  • Calculus of voting