The Journal of Politics


Exceeding Expectations? Determinants of Satisfaction with the Voting Process in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election

Paul S. Herrnsona1, Ryan L. Claassena2, Richard G. Niemia3 and Kelly D. Pattersona4

a1 University of Maryland

a2 Kent State University

a3 University of Rochester

a4 Brigham Young University


The 2000 U.S. presidential election resulted in states introducing new voting systems and election administration procedures. The election also raised concerns that poor experiences at the polls would produce lower levels of confidence in the electoral process or lower turnout. Drawing on theories used in organizational psychology and marketing and using an internet-administered panel survey, we assess the impact of voters’ expectations on their satisfaction in the 2008 elections. The findings indicate that voters have different expectations about the voting process and that these expectations condition the ways in which voters assess their experience. Therefore, a complete explanation of voter satisfaction with the voting process must account for both the expectations voters bring to the polling place and the experiences voters have there.


  Paul S. Herrnson is Director of the Center for American Politics and Citizenship and Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.

Ryan L. Claassen is Associate Professor of Political Science at Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242.

Richard G. Niemi is Don Alonzo Watson Professor of Political Science at the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627.

Kelly D. Patterson is Professor of Political Science at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602.