Menu Adam R Brown

Notes navigation: Browse by titleBrowse by authorSubject index

Abramson, Aldrich, Paolino, and Rohde: 'Sophisticated' voting in the 1988 presidential primaries

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Abramson, Aldrich, Paolino, and Rohde. 1992. 'Sophisticated' voting in the 1988 presidential primaries. APSR 86:55-69.

The Argument

Main Point

Voters are strategic ("sophisticated") more than they are sincere.


Sincere voters consider only their preferences among candidates. Sophisticated voters consider both preferences and viability (probability).

The Logic

If a voter prefers 'A' to 'B' to 'C', but 'B' and 'C' are the leaders, he might vote strategically for 'B' in order not to waste his vote on a hopeless candidate ('A'). Voting for 'B' becomes more likely as

  1. 'A' and 'B' become more similar (relative to 'C')
  2. 'B' becomes more strongly preferred to 'C' (i.e. 'B' and 'C' become more different)
  3. 'A' becomes less viable, and 'B' and 'C' get into a closer race

Place in the Literature

See Cox's (1997) formalization of Duverger's law, which develops the logic of strategic voting considerably.



ANES Super Tuesday surveys from the 1988 presidential primaries. Measure preferences about candidates with "feeling thermometers." Also ask respondents who they plan to vote for and which candidates are most likely to win the nomination. Examine three time periods: Pre-Iowa, between Iowa and New Hampshire, and between New Hampshire and Super Tuesday.

Advantages of this data:

Five Different Tests


Research by the same authors

Research on similar subjects


Abramson, Paul (author)Aldrich, John (author)Paolino, Phil (author)Rohde, David (author)American PoliticsVoting

Wikisum home: Index of all summaries by title, by author, or by subject.