If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

Russell Cochrane


Questions of how people influence and skew polling outcomes as respondents have long been at the core of methodological debates for empirical political scientists. In the study of public opinion and voting intentions, though, this perspective can only treat one direction of the relationship between respondents and polls. This article intends to highlight the effects of this relationship's converse: the effects of polling on voterintention. Bandwagon effects, underdog effects, and strategic voting are boiled down to their essences as functions of political expectations and it is argued that the publications of voter-intention polls (horse-race polls) during election periods can influence the expectations and calculations of prospective voters.

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