8 Conclusions and Implications

Anthony King

in Leaders' Personalities and the Outcomes of Democratic Elections

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780199253135
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599675 | DOI:
8 Conclusions and Implications

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The focus of this book has been on the impact that leaders’ personalities and other personal traits may have had from time to time, not on their parties or governments, but on individual voters’ willingness to vote for them and consequently on the outcomes of the elections that they contest. The line of argument usually runs: (1) voters have likes and dislikes of leaders and candidates; (2) on the basis of those likes and dislikes, voters form overall evaluations of leaders and candidates; (3) voters’ overall evaluations of leaders and candidates have a considerable bearing – perhaps a decisive bearing – on how they actually vote. The argument then usually continues (4) because voters’ overall evaluations of leaders and candidates have a considerable bearing on the votes of individuals, they also, therefore, often have a bearing on the outcomes of whole elections; arguments (1) and (2) are not disputed, but arguments (3) and (4) are. A table is presented setting out the editor’s best estimates of which elections over the past four decades in each of the six countries studied (United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and Russia) have, and have not been, decided by voters’ comparative evaluations of the main political parties’ candidates; these estimates are discussed with respect to each country, and various conclusions drawn. Overall, the table suggests that there are some elections in which the leaders’ and candidates’ personalities have proved decisive, and the distinguishing features of these elections are discussed. However, the core finding of the book is that personality factors determine election outcomes far less often then is usually supposed.

Chapter.  5692 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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