2006 D. Baldassarri and H.M.A. Schadee “Voter Heuristics and Political Cognition in Italy: An Empirical Typology”, Electoral Studies, 25: 448-466.
Within a framework of reasoning voters who use various
cognitive shortcuts –heuristics– to arrive at decision, we classify Italian
voters on the basis of the information they possess, how information and judgment
are organized and whether preferences match actual vote. By using only two sets
of variables present in nearly all election surveys, we distinguish four types
of voters: Utilius, a sort of Downsian voter that uses the lefteright dimension
in order to reduce the complexity of politics to a unidimensional space;
Amicus, who conceives politics as an arena in which two main coalitions fight;
Aliens, a detached voter that is strongly disinterested in–or even disappointed
by–politics and its protagonists; and Medians, who belongs to a residual
category. By distinguishing voters according to their actual knowledge and
style of political reasoning, we provide a classification that is both able to
grasp actual differences in the level of political cognition and sophistication,
and suggestive with respect to the kind of information that are pertinent for
the task at hand. We demonstrate that people follow multiple strategies and
rely selectively on different kind of available information. It follows that
parties, leaders, coalitions and media affect voter behavior, but they have
different leverage on different types of voters.
We conclude that a proper account of voter behavior needs to move from the search of the determinants of vote to the search of multiple mechanisms through which voters perceive, represent and evaluate the political landscape.