Formal Modeling, Strategic Behavior, and the Study of American Elections

John H. Aldrich and Arthur Lupia

in The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199235476
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Formal Modeling, Strategic Behavior, and the Study of American Elections

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  • Politics
  • US Politics
  • Political Behaviour



This article examines the contributions of formal modeling to the study of American elections and voting behavior. It concentrates on strategic voting and voter competence for which formal models have been used to explain complex, subtle, and important patterns of behavior that other theories did not explain well. It then tries to clarify the broader potential contributions of the method to the study of voting behavior. Moreover, it provides a brief discussion of the likely role of formal modeling in future voting behavior scholarship. In so doing, it presents examples of current scholarly pursuits whose precision and validity could be improved by greater clarity about assumptions and logical transparency in inference. Formal models provide a rigorous means for converting knowledge from fields such as social or cognitive psychology into more effective research designs and stronger conclusions about why voters act as they do.

Keywords: formal modeling; American elections; strategic voting; voter competence; formal models

Article.  6955 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Behaviour

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