Strategic voting in the California recall election

Daron Shaw, Mark J. Mckenzie, Feffrey Underwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Given people's interest in all things California, the novelty of the recall mechanism, and the presence of a bona fide action hero in the race, it is not surprising that the 2003 California recall election attracted an inordinate amount of national attention. The circus-like atmosphere should not, however, obscure the interesting implications of the recall election for our understanding of the broader phenomenon of strategic voting. We argue that partisans faced two different strategic voting scenarios in California, with Democrats confronting a slightly more subtle set of criteria and circumstances than Republicans. Drawing on individual-level survey data designed to gauge candidate affect and second-choice preferences, we find that strategic voting was common (although by no means unanimous) among those whose preferences placed them in a position to cast such a strategic vote.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-245
Number of pages30
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2005


  • California recall
  • Political participation
  • Public opinion
  • Strategic voting
  • Turnout
  • Voting behavior


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