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A New Approach to Voter Uncertainty in the Downsian Spatial Model

James Enelow and Melvin J. Hinich
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 25, No. 3 (Aug., 1981), pp. 483-493
DOI: 10.2307/2110815
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2110815
Page Count: 11
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A New Approach to Voter Uncertainty in the Downsian Spatial Model
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Abstract

A new model of voter uncertainty about candidate positions is presented in which voters simplify the issue positions of the candidate by representing them as a random variable on an underlying evaluative dimension. It is further assumed that the degree of voter uncertainty depends upon the mean location of this random variable. It is demonstrated that this type of spatially dependent uncertainty results in a shift of each voter's ideal point on the underlying dimension. We discuss two types of shifts, one in which voter ideal points are shifted toward the extremes and the other in which they are shifted toward the center and comment on the consequences of these shifts for two-candidate electoral competition. Finally, we relate our model to earlier work on the subject by Downs (1957) and Shepsle (1972).

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