Fournier, Patrick; Nadeau, Richard; Blais, André; Gidengil, Elisabeth; Nevitte, Neil
March 2001
Public Opinion Quarterly;Spring2001, Vol. 65 Issue 1, p95
Academic Journal
The article assesses the reliability of time-of-voting decision recall in Canada. The quality of information provided by individuals in response to recall questions can be influenced by several factors, notably, the complexity of the question, the deficiencies of memory, and the inclination to give socially acceptable answers. This study draws on data that allow for a precise test of the validity of responses to time-of-voting-decision recall. The 1997 Canadian Election Study contains a rolling cross-sectional component and a panel component. A representative sample of 80-140 respondents was interviewed each day of the 36-day campaign to track the dynamics of vote intentions. The results for both close- and open-ended questions display an impressive degree of consistency. There is evidence of great stability among individuals who claim to have decided before the campaign. But similarly stable vote choices are also evident among all groups interviewed after their reported time of decision. By contrast, there is little stability among respondents who say they decided after their preelection interview. To put a summary statistic on these findings, we can estimate the proportion of respondents whose behavior and reported time of decision coincide. All in all, the behavioral pattern of some 80 percent of the respondents turns out to be consistent with their reported time of decision.


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