Timing of Vote Decision in First and Second Order Dutch Elections 1978-1995: Evidence from Artificial Neural Networks
A time series (t=921) of weekly survey data on vote intentions in the Netherlands for the period 1978-1995 shows that the percentage of undecided voters follows a cyclical pattern over the election calendar. The otherwise substantial percentage of undecided voters decreases sharply in weeks leading up to an election and gradually increases afterwards. This paper models the dynamics of this asymmetric electoral cycle using artificial neural networks, with the purpose of estimating when the undecided voters start making up their minds. We find that they begin to decide which party to vote for nine weeks before a first order national parliamentary election and one to four weeks before a second order election, depending on the type of election (European Parliament, Provincial States, City-councils). The effect of political campaigns and the implications for political analysis are discussed.