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Strategic and expressive voting

ABSTRACT

Critics of the expressive account of voting have argued that it is inconsistent with strategic voting. Since there is strong evidence that people vote strategically, this has been taken to show that many voters are at least partially instrumentally motivated. This paper argues that strategic voting in the relevant sense is consistent with entirely expressive political motivation. Building on an earlier suggestion by Geoffrey Brennan, I model voters as expressively valuing ideological position as well as the strategic pursuit of expressively-defined preferences. This model predicts strategic voting without instrumental preferences entering the voter’s calculus at all. I also suggest that expressive preferences for strategic behaviour can be usefully analysed in terms of dispositional choice.