The Timeline of Elections in Comparative Perspective

July 22, 2016 6:30 PM (finished)

Christopher Wlezien

(University of Texas at Austin)

Date/Time July 22, 2016 6:30 PM
Location Room 549 5th floor, Akamon Sogo Kenkyuto Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo  [map]
Abstract Scholars are only beginning to understand the evolution of electoral sentiment over time. How do preferences come into focus over the electoral cycle in different countries? Do they evolve in patterned ways? Does the evolution vary across countries? This paper addresses these issues. We consider differences in political institutions and how they might impact voter preferences over the course of the election cycle. We then outline an empirical analysis relating support for parties or candidates in pre-election polls to their final vote. The analysis relies on over 26,000 vote intention polls in 45 countries since 1942, covering 312 discrete electoral cycles, including five in Japan. Our results indicate that early polls contain substantial information about the final result but that they become increasingly informative over the election cycle. Although the degree to which this is true varies across countries in important and understandable ways given differences in political institutions, the pattern is strikingly general.
Bio Christopher Wlezien is Hogg Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa and has been on the faculty at Oxford University, the University of Houston, and Temple University. He holds or has held visiting positions at Columbia University, European University Institute (Florence), Instituto Empresa (Madrid), Juan March Institute (Madrid), University of Mannheim (Germany), McGill University (Montreal), Sciences Po (Paris), and the University of Manchester (UK). His primary, ongoing research develops and tests a “thermostatic” model of public opinion and policy, and his other major project assesses the evolution of voter preferences over the course of election cycles. He has published numerous articles and chapters as well as a number of books, including Degrees of Democracy and Who Gets Represented? and The Timeline of Presidential Elections. Wlezien was founding co-editor of the international Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties. He currently is Associate Editor of Public Opinion Quarterly, Research and Politics, and Parliamentary Affairs and a member of the editorial boards of five other journals.