Elff, Martin, Spyros Kosmidis, and Andras Murr. 2016. "Campaign Dynamics and Mixed Incentives for Strategic Voting:The Case of the UK Parliamentary Elections of 2010". Presented at the European Political Science Association 6th Annual Conference, 23-25 June 2016, Square-Brussels Meeting Centre, Brussels; EPOP (Elections Public Opinion and Parties) Annual Conference, 9-12 September 2016, University of Kent, Canterbury.
The 2010 British General Election is a rare case: voters faced a potential coalition government. As a result, did voters engage in policy balancing, the type of tactical voting found in systems with frequent coalition governments? Or did they react in the opposite way: casting a tactical vote to avoid a hung parliament and coalition government? We test these new types of tactical voting in British elections using survey data from the 2010 election. We use a novel finite-mixture model to simultaneously estimate all types of voting while accounting for measurement uncertainty. We find evidence that some voters tried to avoid a hung parliament, but we find no evidence that voters engaged in policy balancing. Among other things, these results imply that citizens voted for the Liberal Democrats not because they wanted to “limit the damage” of a Tory government. Instead, they voted for them because it was their sincere preference or because their preferred party had no chance of winning in the constituency.