There is little research on voters who display incongruent preferences, that is, those who prefer a leader from another party than their preferred one. We address two questions. How many voters prefer a leader from another party? Do these incongruent voters vote for their preferred party or leader? We use the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) data sets covering 83 legislative elections over a time period of 20 years (1996–2016). We find that 17% of the electorate typically prefer a leader from another party. In that group, the vast majority (80%) end up supporting their preferred party while 20% of voters support their preferred leader. We find that partisans and those located at the extremes of the political spectrum tend to have more congruent preferences. Moreover, the proportion of incongruent voters who cast their vote for their preferred leader is higher in less established and less polarized countries as well as among non-partisans. We discuss the implications of our findings for our understanding of the role of parties and leaders in contemporary democracies.
- comparative study of electoral systems (CSES)
- political parties
- vote choice