Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Voter optimism wanes in run-up to election day

Date:
April 29, 2013
Source:
University of California, Riverside
Summary:
Voters who remain optimistic about their candidate or cause up to Election Day -- despite negative news about the chances of victor -- are more motivated to vote but also more disappointed if things don’t turn out their way.

Scholars have long known that voters tend to believe that the candidates they support will win, even when victory seems unlikely. But there has been little research about how voter expectations of election outcomes change in the weeks before Election Day, or how those expectations relate to the level of disappointment experienced when a favored candidate or ballot measure loses.

A new study by psychologists at the University of California, Riverside and Iowa State University -- "Causes and Consequences of Expectation Trajectories: 'High' on Optimism in a Public Ballot Initiative," published this month online in the peer-reviewed journal Psychological Science -- is the first to measure how voter expectations about favored candidates or ballot measures change over time.

Researchers Kate Sweeny, assistant professor of psychology at UC Riverside, and Zlatan Krizan, assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State University, surveyed 175 California voters during the five weeks before the November 2010 election about the ballot measure that would have legalized marijuana for recreational use. The measure, Proposition 19, failed.

Sweeny and Krizan found that voters who were better informed about waning support for the proposition were likely to lower their expectations regarding the measure's passage as Election Day neared. However, being better informed about issues related to the initiative had less impact on those who favored the measure than among those who opposed it. Additionally, supporters who remained optimistic about the initiative's outcome over time were more likely to vote and were more disappointed after the measure failed than those who became more pessimistic.

"We've known for decades that people tend to brace for the worst by abandoning optimism as the moment of truth draws near, but we didn't know whether this time-based shift in expectations mattered in and of itself," Sweeny explained. "Our findings show that voters who defy that trend and maintain optimism up to Election Day are more motivated to vote but also more disappointed if things don't turn out their way."

The researchers found that both proponents and opponents became less optimistic about the outcome as Election Day neared. People who remained optimistic about the proposition's chances of passage were most likely to turn out and vote in favor, "which speaks to the motivating power of positive expectations and affirms the value of the intense efforts campaigns make to maintain voters' optimism to the end," they determined. "Campaigns typically invest substantial resources in maintaining optimism among supporters to the bitter end, which may explain why electoral expectations do not always shift toward pessimism."

Maintaining optimism comes at a cost, however, the psychologists said: Sustaining optimistic expectations in the face of information suggesting the likelihood of failure can exacerbate disappointment among supporters.

"This disappointment, though short-lived, can be a poignant and memorable experience that is likely to come readily to mind the next time a voter considers investing time and energy in a beloved cause," Sweeny noted. "As they say, once bitten, twice shy."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California, Riverside. The original article was written by Bettye Miller. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Z. Krizan, K. Sweeny. Causes and Consequences of Expectation Trajectories: 'High' on Optimism in a Public Ballot Initiative. Psychological Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/0956797612460690

Cite This Page:

University of California, Riverside. "Voter optimism wanes in run-up to election day." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429210845.htm>.
University of California, Riverside. (2013, April 29). Voter optimism wanes in run-up to election day. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429210845.htm
University of California, Riverside. "Voter optimism wanes in run-up to election day." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429210845.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WHO Calls for Ban on E-Cigarette Sales to Minors

WHO Calls for Ban on E-Cigarette Sales to Minors

AFP (Aug. 26, 2014) The World Health Organization called Tuesday on governments should ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, warning that they pose a "serious threat" to foetuses and young people. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
ICREACH: NSA Built A Google Of Americans' Info

ICREACH: NSA Built A Google Of Americans' Info

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) The Intercept published an article Monday profiling what the online publication called NSA's very own Google of personal data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?

Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A new study found fewer deaths from prescription drug overdoses in states that have legalized medical marijuana. But experts disagree on the results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Optimism Can Lead to Unrealistic Voter Expectations in Elections

Apr. 16, 2013 A new study looks at optimism and knowledge influence voter expectations in the weeks leading up to an ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins