Information, Visibility and Elections: Why Electoral Outcomes Differ When Voters Are Better Informed

A. Blais, E. Gidengil, P. Fournier, N. Nevitte. European Journal of Political Research 48:2 (2009): 256-280.

This article assesses the aggregate effect of information shortfall on the outcome of the last six Canadian elections. Building on Bartels’ analysis, the authors find an information effect in three of the six elections examined, and in each case the information gap benefits the Liberal Party. That finding raises the question: why does information matter in some contexts but not in others? It is argued in this article that the information gap is related to lack of visibility. When and where all political parties have some degree of visibility, the less informed vote like the better informed, but when and where a party is hardly visible, the less informed are less likely to support that party. The less informed appear to consider a smaller set of options when they decide how to vote.