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12-05-2018 | Issue 1-2/2018

Public Choice 1-2/2018

Multidimensional incongruence and vote switching in Europe

Journal:
Public Choice > Issue 1-2/2018
Authors:
Ryan Bakker, Seth Jolly, Jonathan Polk

Abstract

Does ideological incongruence hurt parties in elections? Research on the representational relationship between parties and voters suggests that ideological congruence can boost a party’s electoral prospects. However, while the mechanism is at the individual-level, most of the literature focuses on the party-level. In this article, we develop a set of hypotheses based on a multi-issue conception of party-voter congruence at the individual-level, and examine the electoral consequences of these varying congruence levels in the 2014 European Parliament elections. Consistent with our expectations, comparative analysis finds that ideological and issue-specific incongruence is a significant factor in voting behavior in the European Parliament elections. Although the substantive effects of incongruence are understandably small compared to partisanship, government, or EU performance evaluations, party-voter disagreement consistently matters, and voters’ issue salience is an important moderator of the impact of incongruence on vote choice.

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