Are Swing Voters Instruments of Democracy or Farmers of Clientelism? Evidence from Ghana

60 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 20 Aug 2010

See all articles by Staffan I. Lindberg

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute; Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

Keith Richard Weghorst

Vanderbilt University

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

This paper is one of the first to systematically identify the relative influence of ethnic identity, campaign strategies of political parties’ candidates , poverty, evaluations of public and private goods performance in making citizens turning new democracies into swing voters. It brings together three of the major research streams in comparative politics – the literatures on development, democracy, and political clientelism – to properly situate the swing voter as – potentially – the pivotal instrument of democracy and antidote to the public goods deficit in failed developmental states. The paper contributes to the study of voting behavior by providing a more adequate operationalization of the propensity to swing vote as multi-component outcome and by introducing a unique empirical design analyzing survey data conduced ahead of Ghana’s critical 2008 elections with count regression models. Our analyses confirm theoretical expectations that constituency competitiveness, poverty, education, and access to information all impact the likelihood of swing voting. More critically, the paper shows the importance of voter evaluations of public and collective goods provision by incumbent politicians on vote choice volatility and in doing so challenges the empirical consensus on the limited retrospection of the African voter.

Keywords: elections, democracy, voters, count modelling

Suggested Citation

Lindberg, Staffan I. and Weghorst, Keith Richard, Are Swing Voters Instruments of Democracy or Farmers of Clientelism? Evidence from Ghana (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1643311

Staffan I. Lindberg (Contact Author)

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se/varianter-pa-demokrati--v-dem-/

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se

Keith Richard Weghorst

Vanderbilt University ( email )

2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240
United States

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