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The post-crisis Irish voterVoting behaviour in the Irish 2016 general election$
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Michael Marsh, David Farrell, and Theresa Reidy

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526122643

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526122643.001.0001

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Political fragmentation on the march: Campaign effects in 2016

Political fragmentation on the march: Campaign effects in 2016

(p.145) 8 Political fragmentation on the march: Campaign effects in 2016
The post-crisis Irish voter

Theresa Reidy

Jane Suiter

Manchester University Press

This chapter concentrates on when voters make their voting decisions paying particular attention to the campaign period. It starts by arguing that knowing when decisions are made is a vital part of understanding how elections work. The evidence presented demonstrates that a growing proportion of voters report making their final vote choice during election campaigns. Modern election campaigns with their manifesto launches, party leader debates and intense scrutiny of opinion polls matter a great deal. These campaigns work by raising awareness of new parties and candidates and providing vital information on the policy positions of competing actors. The analysis reveals that they are decisive in shaping voter decisions. Young people, women and urban voters are more likely to arrive at their final vote choice during the campaign period and importantly, voters who decide during the campaign are also more likely to have changed their preference from the previous election. These findings have important implications for the political system. They provide further evidence of the challenges parties face in building long term allegiance among their voters. Furthermore, it is also clear that election results may become more unpredictable as larger proportions of voters arrive at their final decision close to election day, making early campaign opinion polls more problematic as predictors of final outcomes.

Keywords:   Campaigns and elections, Modernization of election campaigns, Timing of vote decision

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