Better the Devil You Know than the Saint You Don't? Risk Propensity and Vote Choice in Mexico



This paper argues that personal attitudes toward risk influence vote choice in Mexico. Great uncertainty over the political stances and capabilities of the opposition parties makes risk propensity a key determinant of vote choice. Not all voters who are disenchanted with the status quo take a chance on the less known opposition; risk acceptant voters gamble on these parties, whereas risk averse individuals stick with the “devil they know.” Using data from a 1997 national survey and multinomial probit analysis, we show that attitudes toward risk influence voting behavior in Mexico in two ways. First, risk has a direct impact on vote choice. Risk acceptant individuals are more likely, in general, to support the opposition. Second, risk affects vote choice indirectly by conditioning the importance of economic assessments. Risk acceptant individuals are willing to punish negative economic performance, whereas similar, but risk averse, individuals are not.