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How Do Voters Form Expectations about the Parties' Chances of Winning the Election?


  • *Direct correspondence to André Blais, Département de science politique, Université de Montréall C.P.6128, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montreal, Canada, H3C 3J7 〈〉. The authors accept full responsibility for all errors of commission and omission and agree to share all data and coding with interested parties. The authors thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for its financial support.


Objective. This article examines the factors that form voters' perceptions of the parties' chances of winning at both the national and the local levels.

Method. We make use of the 1988 Canadian Election Study and we employ a HLM model to estimate the effect of individual-level and contextual-level variables.

Results. It is shown that voters' expectations are affected by a combination of “objective” contextual information and personal preferences (projection effects).

Conclusion. The basic contextual information that is utilized to ascertain local chances is the outcome of the previous election in the local constituency, whereas polls are crucial in the case of perceived national chances. We also find that the most politically aware are more strongly influenced by “objective” indicators.