Elections and Voters

pp 130-172

Psychological, Economic and Sociological Models of Voting

  • Martin Harrop
  • , William L. Miller


Is voting an act of affirmation or of choice? This is the fundamental question on which models of voting disagree. In the party identification model, the act of voting is seen as expressive, not instrumental. It is a way of demonstrating a deep seated loyalty to a party. One no more chooses a party than one chooses a religious or national identity. In the rational choice model, by contrast, voters choose the party which comes closest to their own interests, values and priorities. They make rational choices by working out which party is the best means to achieve their ends.