Issue Scales, Information Cues, and the Proximity and Directional Models of Voter Choice

Jonathan Kropko, Kevin K. Banda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


One of the most important questions in the study of democratic politics centers on how citizens consider issues and candidate positions when choosing whom to support in an election. The proximity and directional theories make fundamentally different predictions about voter behavior and imply different optimal strategies for candidates, but a longstanding literature to empirically adjudicate between the theories has yielded mixed results. We use a survey experiment to show that the way that candidates’ issue positions are described can cue citizens to choose a candidate that is preferred under the expectations of either the proximity or the directional theory. We find that directional voting is more likely when the issue scale is understood to represent degrees of intensity with which either the liberal or the conservative side of the issue is expressed and that proximity voting is more likely when an issue scale is understood to be a range of policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-787
Number of pages16
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018



  • directional theory
  • proximity theory
  • spatial voting

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