Do Moderate Voters Weigh Candidates’ Ideologies? Voters’ Decision Rules in the 2010 Congressional Elections


Models of voting behavior typically specify that all voters employ identical criteria to evaluate candidates. We argue that moderate voters weigh candidates’ policy/ideological positions far less than non-moderate voters, and we report analyses of survey data from the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study that substantiate these arguments. Across a wide range of models and measurement strategies, we find consistent evidence that liberal and conservative voters are substantially more responsive to candidate ideology than more centrist voters. Simply put, moderate voters appear qualitatively different from liberals and conservatives, a finding that has important implications for candidate strategies and for political representation.

Political Behavior