This chapter considers the voter’s choice between candidates. In the context of voter choice, aspirations are internal evaluation thresholds which code an incumbent’s performance as good or bad, satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Good performance is rewarded with increased support, and bad with less support. This chapter introduces a behavioral model of voter choice that allows voters to use the identity of the incumbent’s party in their decision making. It first presents the model, along with a few definitions necessary to structure later results, before discussing the difference between naïve and sophisticated retrospective voting. Using the model, it examines aggregate electoral outcomes in large populations of voters all responding independently to an incumbent. Using simple retrospective voting rules, citizens can generate endogenous party affiliations. This creates ideological polarization when aggregated over the entire population.
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