Choice vs. Action: Candidate Ambiguity and Voter Decision Making
Yanna Krupnikov, Stony Brook University, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Barry Ryan, Stony Brook University, USA, email@example.com
Yanna Krupnikov and John Barry Ryan (2017), "Choice vs. Action: Candidate Ambiguity and Voter Decision Making", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 12: No. 4, pp 479-505. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00016051
A rich literature argues that electoral incentives lead candidates to take ambiguous positions on issues. Furthermore, empirical research suggests that ambiguity does not repel — and may actually attract — voters. This work, however, equates choosing a candidate with paying the costs of voting for that candidate. We reconsider the relationship between candidate ambiguity and candidate preference moving beyond candidate choice and considering turnout as well. Integrating political science with research on consumer decision-making and psychology, we argue that many who select an ambiguous candidate do not translate that choice into an actual vote for that candidate. We test this argument using three experiments which incorporate costly voting and other electoral conditions heretofore absent from research on ambiguity.