Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Political Science

Supervisor(s)

Cameron Anderson and Laura Stephenson

Abstract

Why do individuals make their vote decisions at the point in time at which they do, and what impact does the time-of-voting-decision (TOVD) have upon other important political variables? Through a series of integrated articles, this dissertation explores the causes, correlates and effects of TOVD in Canada. The first two articles explore the relationships between TOVD and political attitudes, employing TOVD as both an independent and dependent variable. The first examines the impact that consistency, intensity and direction of summary political attitudes have on TOVD, and introduces a new measure of attitudinal ambivalence. The second article employs cognitive dissonance theory to argue that TOVD can influence attitudes towards parties, after an election occurs. The third and fourth articles respectively consider the relationships between TOVD and vote sincerity, and an individual’s ability to vote for the party that best reflects his or her own policy preferences. Insincere voters are found to have a relatively late TOVD, which the third article attributes to the fact that these individuals are able to use the campaign period to update their expectations about the competitive prospects of candidates and parties. The fourth and final article uses TOVD as a mediating variable to evaluate the impact of the campaign period on correct voting rates. It finds that late deciders, who are able to use the campaign period to collect information to inform their vote decisions, are actually less likely to vote correctly than are early deciders. The dissertation also includes a research note which outlines a new method of identifying invalid TOVD responses, and illustrates the importance of removing such cases. As a whole, this dissertation adds significantly to our knowledge of TOVD, a variable which, until now, has received relatively little scholarly attention.


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