Tactical voting at the 2010 British general election

Rational behaviour in local contexts?

Ron Johnston*, Charles Pattie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


Tactical voting is an important element of British electoral behaviour, with approximately one sixth of all voters surveyed indicating that they voted tactically at the 2010 general election. Such voting for one's second preference party rather than one's first in order to prevent a less preferred party winning in a constituency is only rational in certain circumstances, reflecting the local context and electors' perceptions of the tactical situation there.Using 2010 British Election Study Internet survey data, this paper uses three separate definitions of tactical voting (two self-defined by the respondents, one inferred from a separate indication of their preferences) to test whether rational voting models successfully predict such behaviour. The findings are very clear and consistent with the theory, for all three groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1323-1340
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning A: Economy and Space
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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