Voting Power in Multi-Party Democracies: Evidence from a Model of Electoral Targeting for Income, Gender, Age and Education Groups in 15 European Democracies
75 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 6 Sep 2010
Date Written: 2010
This paper develops a model of electoral targeting in multi-party systems. Seat-share maximizing parties can use policy transfers to win votes by 1) converting undecided voters, 2) mobilizing loyal supporters, or 3) lowering the turn-out of voters loyal to other parties. The model allows for the empirical estimation of a measure of voting power, which is the expected increase in seat-share for a dollar spend on a group. Using European Election Studies data fo 15 European countries between 1989 and 2004, the voting power of different income, education, gender, age and religious groups are calculated with respect to parties, legislatures and governments. Amongst the findings are that high income groups tend to have more power over governments than middle or poor income groups and that availability for conversion is a more important source of group power than availability for mobilization. The paper offers the study of politics a new approach to analyzing political inequality and a new variable to explain change in government policy. For better or worse, the model also provides practioning politicians with a guide to optimizing their electoral strategies.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation