Political Science, Department of


First Advisor

Kevin Smith

Second Advisor

Dona-Gene Barton

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Theiss-Morse

Date of this Version

Fall 11-1-2018


Wolbers, C., Preferential Politics, 2018


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Political Science, Under the Supervision of Kevin Smith. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2018

Copyright 2018 Cary Wolbers


Preferential voting is a unique system of voting that, while enjoying popularity abroad, has yet to make a significant impact on American political culture. However, within that past few years, preferential voting has been adopted by a number of cities across the country and the state of Maine. This dissertation examines the growing role of preferential voting in the United States, the impact of preferential voting on the electoral process, and the public’s perception of preferential voting. This project uses survey data and data collected through Twitter to demonstrate that preferential voting is generally popular with the electorate and reduces campaign negativity, but it can confuse certain voters. Ultimately, this project demonstrates that preferential voting has the potential to address many of the complaints directed towards plurality voting.

Advisor: Kevin Smith