Voting behavior refers to what they thinking while voting, what forces a person to vote in favor of someone, etc. Obviously, there must be some reason behind all this. There can be many reasons that people keep in mind while voting.
In this article, we will discuss voting behavior in a simple and easy way and try to understand its various aspects. So do read this article till the end.
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Definitions and Overview
At the time of voting, the attitude of a person or a group of people which is expressed through their voting is called voting behaviour. In other words, any factor that determines the behavior of a voter at the time of voting.
Voting behavior is the field of study concerned with how people vote in public elections and includes the reasons why people vote the way they do.Plano & Riggs
Voting behavior can be defined as behavior that clearly reflects voter’s preferences, choices, ideologies, concerns, agreements and programs. And which are related to various issues and are related to questions related to society and nation.Oinam Kulabidhu
Election analysis (sephology) is a branch of political science that deals with the scientific study of voting behavior. Voting behavior and why it is important to study it, let us understand it from some points.
Features of Voting Behavior
Voting behavior helps in understanding the process of political socialization. Suppose a BJP candidate wins a constituency with a huge majority. A lot can be known from just such a thing like either vote in the name of Modi, if it is so then you can understand how much the charismatic image factor works. Either people would have voted for him on the basis of religion, or on the basis of caste. There can be many reasons from which it can be found that how people have been politically socialized at the time of elections.
◾ It is helpful in examining the perception of democracy in the upper classes of the society as well as in the common people. Many people go to vote with a sense of right or responsibility. But there some do not cast their vote or press NOTA. There can be many reasons for this such as not liking the candidate, displeasure with the government, or wondering what will happen if I vote or not, etc.
◾ It also throws light on the extent to which electoral politics is connected or disconnected from the past. We notice every time that there is a central issue around which electoral politics revolves. Sometimes elections are fought on poverty, sometimes on employment and sometimes in the name of development. Sometimes on the past record of political parties, sometimes on the performance of the present.
It helps to measure modernity or antiquity in the context of political development and shows the process of decision making.
Factors Influencing and Determining Voting Behavior
Indian society is extremely diverse in its nature and composition. That is why there are so many factors affecting voting behavior in India that it is difficult to even discuss them all. For the sake of understanding, let us discuss its main socio-economic factors and political factors.
Caste: Caste is an important factor influencing the behavior of voters. Despite the modernity in the society, caste still acts as an important factor in voting. Even today, political parties always keep the caste factor in mind while making their election strategy. They field candidates of the same caste in a particular caste dominated area.
Sometimes caste affects politics and sometimes politics affects caste. According to Rajni Kothari – “Indian politics is casteist and caste is politicised.
Paul Brass has explained it well. “At the local level, caste unity is the most important factor in the voting behavior in the countryside. Large and important castes support a prominent member of their own caste in their constituency or support a political party from which members of their caste establish their identity.
Religion: Religion is another important factor in India which influences the voting behavior. Where caste can show its influence in a small part, religion shows its influence in a large part. Because sometimes due to inter-caste alliances, the caste side gets a little weak but the religious side starts showing its color.
Political parties indulge in communal propaganda and exploit the religious sentiments of the voters. Religion has also been politicized due to the existence of many communal parties. India being a secular nation, no party ignores the influence of religion in electoral politics.
Language: How much can linguistic considerations influence people’s voting behaviour? See this as an example that the first state was separated on the basis of language. During elections, political parties influence the decisions of the people by raising their linguistic sentiments.
Money: Money cannot be ignored while explaining voting behaviour. Crores of rupees are spent despite cap on election expenditure. Voter wants money or liquor or any other thing in exchange for his vote. But it does not work every time, many times it is seen that voters take money from someone else and vote for someone else. Or sometimes it also happens that people’s sentiments suddenly change overnight and people vote for someone else on the polling day.
Region: Regionalism and sub-regionalism also have an important role in voting behaviour. The narrow sentiments of sub-nationalism have led to the rise of regional parties in many states. Such regional parties appeal to voters to vote on the basis of regional identities and sentiments. Although they do not win many seats, but they establish their dominance in a particular area and sometimes give air to separatism.
Personality: The charismatic personality of a leader of a party also influences the voting behaviour. For example, the high image of Jawaharlal Nehru , Indira Gandhi , Rajiv Gandhi , Jayaprakash Narayan , Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi influenced the voters to vote in favor of their parties or the parties supported by them. Similarly at the state level also the charismatic personality of the regional party leader has been an important factor in popular support in elections.
Paul Brass also called the web election which we call Lehar; It has been defined as “web election is one in which a tendency among the voters starts to form in one direction which is in favor of one national party or its leader. It is based on a single issue or on several issues. Like Modi wave etc.
Anti-incumbency factor: Anti-incumbency simply means dissatisfaction with the performance of the ruling party. This dissatisfaction arises due to many reasons, such as being in power for many terms, not being able to fulfill the promised promises, some kind of immoral stain on the ruling party etc. For example Congress party’s defeat in 1977, BJP’s defeat in 2018 Chhattisgarh assembly election, BJP’s victory in 2014 etc.
Ideology: The ideology nurtured by a political party also influences the voter’s decision. Some people are committed to certain ideologies in the society, such as communism, capitalism, democracy, secularism, patriotism and decentralization etc. Such people vote for candidates of only those parties which match their ideology.
Other factors: Apart from some of the major factors presented above, there are also some other small and subtle factors which determine the voting behavior of the Indian voter. For example, some political events that happened before the election, for example war, murder of a leader, notoriety of corruption etc. You will remember how much change in the behavior of voters was brought about by the Balakot air strike in 2019 before the Lok Sabha elections.
The economic conditions at the time of election, such as inflation, food shortage, unemployment etc., also suddenly change the mood of the voter.
Emotional connection also has a role in determining voting behaviour. Those who identify themselves with any party, they will vote for that party in spite of lakhs of shortcomings and merits.
Apart from this, the role of the media, the role of the family, personal interests, etc. are also such factors. Here the role of media is very important, let us understand it.