Party Policies and Voter Choices

Anthony F. Heath, Roger M. Jowell and John K. Curtice

in The Rise of New Labour

Published in print April 2001 | ISBN: 9780199245116
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599453 | DOI:
 Party Policies and Voter Choices

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The authors offer a multiplicative model that provides a comprehensive framework to place the main findings of the volume. The model is based on the standard ‘expected utility maximization’ model of the economists, which can be applied for understanding election outcomes. The idea is that the voter weights the utility of a given policy by the probability of its being implemented, sums this across the different policies, and then votes for whichever party gives the greatest expected utility. However, Heath, Jowell, and Curtice emphasize the fact that the rational choice model needs to be expanded to include some of the ‘non‐rational’ processes observed in their research such as the possibility that voters’ preferences may be shaped by the political parties and should not to be treated only as independent factors. The model should also be modified to take account of other sorts of processes such as social interaction, social conformity and what the authors have termed the ‘forked‐tail’ effect related to the generalization of the disillusionment from a specific party policy into a general disillusion with the party's competence.

Keywords: forked‐tail effect; expected utility maximization; multiplicative model; non‐rational processes; probability; rational choice model; social conformity; social interaction; utility; voters’ preferences

Chapter.  7652 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: UK Politics

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