Header image

What drives voters to vote – A conjoint analysis assisted by Gallup Pakistan



How much are politicians constrained by the preferences of their voters? How much weight do voters places on foreign policy when deciding between electoral candidates? In traditional surveys in Pakistan, the vast majority of respondents identify India as an enemy and a serious threat to Pakistan. What these studies do not assess is whether these beliefs affect voting behavior. What if a political candidate emerged that had otherwise popular characteristics, but advocated policies of friendship toward India? Using a conjoint survey experiment conducted on a population-based sample of 1,990 respondents in Pakistan, we find that voters punish politicians who advocate a friendly policy toward India, but only modestly. Candidate attitudes toward India were the least meaningful characteristic for voter choice among five characteristics tested. While Pakistan is widely viewed as a garrison state where the military largely determines foreign policy (Fair 2014; Shah 2014; Paul 2014), our results help distinguish whether the Pakistan military achieves its policy preferences because of institutional power alone, or because public support for policies of antagonism toward India dissuades civilian politicians from policies of peace. Our results suggest the former. We also describe individual-level correlates for support of policies of friendship or antagonism toward India. Rural, less educated voters are more likely to punish politicians advocating peaceful policies.