How Does Partisanship Irrationalize the Decision to Vote in Western and Postcommunist Democracies?

How Does Partisanship Irrationalize the Decision to Vote in Western and Postcommunist Democracies?
Dong-Joon Jung

The rational choice model of voting assumes that people decide whether to vote as a consequence of the calculation of the benefits and costs associated with voting (Downs 1957; Riker and Ordeshook 1968). According to the model, only those who expect the benefits they will receive to exceed the costs they have to pay would turn out to vote. Often, however, the assumption of rationality betrays the reality; people still vote even though they are clearly aware that the benefits will not be greater than the costs.

In my recent study published in Electoral Studies, Irrationalizing the Rational Choice Model of Voting: The Moderating Effects of Partisanship on Turnout Decisions in Western and Postcommunist Democracies, I focus on partisanship as one of the factors that could motivate voters to behave in such an irrational manner. Partisanship, commonly defined as one’s psychological attachments to particular political party or parties (Campbell et al., 1960), has been regarded as one of the most consistent predictors of turnout. Despite the popularity of partisanship as an independent turnout predictor in the literature, however, its interactions with the costs and benefits of voting have been underexplored. Due to its emotional aspect and influences on one’s political attitudes and behaviors, partisanship may reduce the effects of the rational components of voting. To put it differently, partisan allegiances may contribute to irrationalizing individuals’ turnout calculations. Continue reading “How Does Partisanship Irrationalize the Decision to Vote in Western and Postcommunist Democracies?”