This accessible textbook provides a comprehensive introduction and guide to theories of voting and electoral behaviour. By carefully presenting and explaining the major technical and methodological advances made in voting studies, the text serves to provide a complete review of the different approaches and techniques that have characterized this area of study from its origins to the present day. The book includes separate chapters on abstention and electoral competition, and employs a range of empirical examples from a number of countries. It concludes by looking at how voting studies might evolve in the future.

Rational Choice Theories of Voting

Rational choice theories of voting

Summary Box

  • What is rationality?
  • Rationally linking parties and voters
  • The role of uncertainty
  • Ideology and policy-space
  • The rational abstention paradox
  • Extending the rational model
  • The effect of rational choice on voting research.


As individuals we all have beliefs and desires which make up part of who we are. Many if not all of these beliefs and desires will be shared by other people – not necessarily in the same combinations, but for the most part in subsets which correspond to different areas of life. For instance, many of us have religious beliefs which tend to correspond with members of the same religion or denominations within that religion. All Christians, for instance, believe in a monotheistic deity. Not all, however, believe in the Holy ...

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