Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck, Julia Partheymüller
Why Voters Decide Late: A Simultaneous Test of Old and New Hypotheses at the 2005 and 2009 German Federal Elections

German Politics, 2012: 21, issue 3, pp. 299-316

Against the background of a substantial rise of the number of late-deciding voters at recent elections the paper simultaneously tests four complementary hypotheses on the background of contemporary electors’ timing of decision making. The traditional floating voter hypothesis fares best in this analysis: lacking partisan predispositions and a general detachment from politics appear as the main reasons why people take longer to make up their minds. Indifference and attitudinal ambivalence as well as mixed party-political signals from voters’ social networks also lead to electors postponing their voting decisions. The hypothesis that late deciding is a consequence of increased availability and attention to mediated political information is refuted. Several long-term trends are discussed as reasons for the increase of late deciding.