Volatile Voters, Short-Term Choices?


The increase of electoral volatility in established democracies is typically interpreted as proof that short-term factors are increasingly important determinants of vote choice. The empirical evidence to support this assertion, however, is relatively weak. This paper addresses this question by investigating the impact of both long- and short-term determinants on the vote choices of stable and volatile voters in Britain. Analysis of three British election panels (1992–1997, 1997–2001 and 2005–2010) indicates that short-term factors – especially economic issues – do have more weight in determining the vote choices of volatile voters compared with stable voters. However, the results also reveal that the growth in instability of voting behaviour is driven mainly by the weakening impact of long-term factors and not by increasing importance of short-term determinants of the vote choice. Short-term predictors are becoming more important, therefore, but this gain in strength is in relative rather than absolute terms.


Short-term determinants, Volatility, Voting behaviour, Great Britain

This content has been updated on 14 October 2016 at 22 h 34 min.