271Table Voting Dec Rules

Vote Choice Criteria

Decision Rule

Information required

Voter Rationality

Elite Accountability


Position Issues:

(central in Rep’ive Demo Theory)

Vote for the candidate closer to own position on the issue

Have opinion, know candidates’ opinions on the issue, care about the issue, see a difference between the candidates on the issue. Issue publics possible.

Very rational

High accountability

Information costs high 

Performance evaluations: retrospective or prospective, personal or national (sociotropic) conditions


Vote for candidate or party based on the party’s past or future performance

Rough assessment of whether economic times (or other conditions) have gotten better or worse under the incumbent (usually the president’s) party, or a rough prediction of how the party is likely to perform in the future

Fairly rational

Reasonable performance accountability

May be hard for voters

Party ID

(irrational criterion in Revisionist theory)

Vote for candidate with same party affiliation as you

Only the candidate’s party affiliation

Rational if

Some accountability 

If low party discipline

Candidate Image

(irrational criterion in Revisionist theory)

Vote for candidate with better personal characteristics

Some assessment of candidates’ personalities

Rational if

Little accountability

Image management