• Nikolaj Winther Olsen
4. term, Public Administration and Social Science (Master Programme)
This dissertation explores the diversity in the voters' diverging ways to the vote. I find substantial heterogeneity among Danish voters in terms of the effect of political attitudes on their vote choice. Politically sophisticated voters are more able to make a consistent connection between their opinions about political issues and their X on the ballot. This does not mean, however, that less politically sophisticated voters in Denmark are unable to relate their vote choice to political opinions. Even the group of voters with a low degree of political knowledge and political interest are able to let their political attitudes substantially affect their choice on election day. In this dissertation, I develop a new theoretical foundation for studying heterogeneity in vote choice. Based on Zaller's RAS-model in combination with theories about heuristics in political decision making, I present a new theoretical understanding. Basically, when making statistical analyses in political science, we need to ask ourselves if the explanations are equally available to all respondents. My theory says that cognitive engagement in a subject increases the likelihood of exposure to information about it, as well as increases the ability to comprehend the information and afterwards use it in a political decision. If we are truly interested in the voters' skills and democratic potential, we need to be aware that voters are not alike. Thus, one model does not t all. My empirical analysis is a case study of the Danish general election in 2011. I run a long range of models, all of them binary logistic regressions. The analysis is to some extent driven by theory, but it does also have an explorative touch. I use interaction terms to explore heterogeneity, with one interaction in each model in order to keep the analysis as parsimonious as possible. Apart from studying heterogeneity in the field of political attitudes and political sophistication, I also study if the importance a respondent places on a particular issue affects how much his attitude to the issue affects his vote choice. I do not find substantial heterogeneity in this case which is probably due to the fact that finding an issue important is an attitude statement of its own. I also study heterogeneity in economic voting and in party leader evaluation, but apart from a couple of small findings, the overall conclusion is that the voters are fairly homogenous in how much these factors influence their vote choice. I suggest that students of political behaviour in the future are more aware of heterogeneity when they make statistical models. I also think that political parties, NGO's and other political actors will benefit from having heterogeneity in mind when they make analyses of voters and citizens.
Publication date6 Nov 2015
Number of pages48
ID: 221453313