Do You Swing? Understanding the Psychology of the Swing Voter

Torchia, Grace Astill (2014). Do You Swing? Understanding the Psychology of the Swing Voter Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Torchia, Grace Astill
Thesis Title Do You Swing? Understanding the Psychology of the Swing Voter
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2014-10-08
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Paul Bain
Total pages 89
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary In a two-party system, a swing voter is described as a voter who is not committed to one party, and therefore during each election could potentially vote for either side. Swing voters play a critical role in determining election outcomes. However, most research on swing voters is theoretical or anecdotal, with empirical research almost non-existent. The present study developed new measures testing eight potential explanations of swing voting. Seven explanations are proposed in the literature: (1) voting out of self-interest; (2) protest voting; (3) having a moderate ideology; (4) having low political identification; (5) being disengaged; (6) voting in line with peers; and (7) voting to back the winner. One novel explanation was also included; voting to maintain a balance in political power. Swing voting was measured in three ways: (a) identification as a swing voter; (b) previous swing voting behaviour; and (c) intentions to swing vote for the first time (deserting). Three hundred and fifty-three American citizens (Age, M=35 years, SD= 12.33; 50% females) completed an online survey. A factor analysis of the eight explanations identified seven factors, which formed meaningful and reliable scales. Low Political Identification predicted all three measures of swing voting. Moderate/Balance and Backing the Winner were significant predictors of Swing Voter Identity and Deserting. Self-Interest was a significant predictor of Swing Voter Identity and Swing Voter Behaviour. Protest only predicted Swing Voter Identity. These explanations were superior predictors of swing voting than established predictors of voting behaviour such as personal and political values. The interpretation of these results and their implications will be discussed.
Keyword Voting
Swing voters
Political power

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Created: Thu, 11 Jun 2015, 12:18:08 EST by Louise Grainger on behalf of School of Psychology