Voting in a multidimensional space

A conjoint analysis employing valence and ideology attributes of candidates


Fabio Franchino and Francesco Zucchini, Università degli Studi di Milano

Most formal models of valence competition add a single, separable and unweighted component to the standard one-dimensional utility function of voters. We present the results of a conjoint analysis experiment where respondents are asked to choose between two candidates whose profiles vary along five attributes. Four of these traits behave like valence or policy issues as expected, but one, which has been employed in recent formal and empirical works, does not. Moreover, policy and valence are not separable. They interact significantly, taking a competency form whereby the marginal impact of valence on voters’ choice is conditional on candidates’ policies. Finally, policy trumps valence in awkward choices. Respondents even prefer corrupt candidates with similar policy views than honest ones with different opinions, despite integrity being declared the most important attribute.