The Analysis of Short-Term Conversion

  • David Butler
  • Donald Stokes


In the last chapter we attempted to measure the extent to which electors change their positions. It now remains to examine why they did so. The schoolbook accounts of democracy assume that the electors act like a jury passing judgment on current policies and current leaders, responding to the merits of the issues before them. The earlier chapters of this book were devoted to showing how far votes are linked to loyalties formed deep in the past and to causes that have little to do with contemporary questions, and how far elections are decided by the changing composition of the electorate as a whole, as distinct from the conversion of individual electors. However, as the last chapter showed, many people do switch their votes, apparently in response to current events or propaganda. Which of the many stimuli to which the elector is subject are most likely to move his vote? Before we can answer this question we need to explore the ways in which the link between issues and changes of political attitude can best be analyzed.


Policy Issue Nuclear Weapon Alternative Policy Party Leader Response Uncertainty 
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Copyright information

© David Butler and Donald Stokes 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Butler
    • 1
  • Donald Stokes
    • 2
  1. 1.Nuffield CollegeOxfordUK
  2. 2.Princeton UniversityUSA

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