Date Presented

Spring 5-15-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Timothy Meinke

Second Advisor

Dr. Dan Lang

Third Advisor

Dr. Laura Kicklighter


Perhaps the most important question in American politics asks what motivates a voter on Election Day? Voter’s decisions affect the direction of our country over the next four years. A long running debate in political science deals with the rationality of voters, concerning itself with the main indicators of vote choice, which include party versus policy. The paper advances these debates to the 21st century, addressing the results from the 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020 general elections using data sets from the ANES Data Center. The data sets were analyzed using a logistic regression to operationalize each explanation. The results of this regression analysis point to three major factors that impact voter choice, party identification, economic issues, and qualities of a candidate. The data made clear that party identification provided the most powerful explanation around voter choice, with a notable increase in partisan voting from 2008 to the 2020 election. The research also pointed to the fact economic issues were incredibly important to voters, arguing voters who have a negative outlook on the economy typically vote for the out party. The conclusion points to the nuance of vote choice, proving that each factor of voter choice relates to one another.