The Use of the Left-Right Scale in Individual's Voting Decisions

28 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 8 Sep 2010

See all articles by John Aldrich

John Aldrich

Duke University - Department of Political Science

Sinziana Dorobantu

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Marco A. Fernandez

Duke University

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

In modern politics, the left-right divide has served as a political schema classifying ideologies that has allowed parties to communicate with voters and the latter to orient themselves in a complex political world. Although the left-right scale has been the most extensive instrument used to identify party positions in the political arena, we have little comparative evidence of the way individuals use it in their voting decisions. We analyze the variance of individuals’ perceptions of parties’ positions on this scale to explore the usefulness of this metric for evaluating political parties and for voting decisions in comparative perspective. Our results show that parties that are ambiguous in their stance on the LR scale attract lower preferential evaluations from individual respondents and, as expected, individuals’ level of misrepresentation of a party’s left-right position is inversely related to their preference for that party. Not surprisingly, voters like less the parties about which they have less or noisier information. But we also find that ambiguity is strongly related to the likelihood of individuals voting for the proximate party. More uncertainty about where parties stand appears to encourage voters to bet on the higher probability that the party may be closer to them than where the electorate perceives it.

Keywords: Left-Right Scale, Political Ideology Political Behavior

Suggested Citation

Aldrich, John and Dorobantu, Sinziana and Fernandez, Marco A., The Use of the Left-Right Scale in Individual's Voting Decisions (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1643906

John Aldrich (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Political Science ( email )

140 Science Drive (Gross Hall), 2nd floor
Duke University Mailcode: 90204
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States
919-660-4346 (Phone)

Sinziana Dorobantu

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Marco A. Fernandez

Duke University ( email )

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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