EARLY DECIDERS Prospective voters who make up their minds early about who they will support in an upcoming election. Early deciders then are little influenced by the subsequent political campaign. They have made their choice and are unlikely to change it.
At one time, early deciders made up two-thirds or more of the electorate in presidential campaigns. They are still a major chunk of voters, but fall considerably short of that level ( Asher, 1988:115-118). In fact, more and more voters today are late deciders who make up their mind in the closing days of a campaign.
Declining party loyalty explains some of the decrease in early deciders. Strong Democrat or Republican leanings used to help voters make up their minds but fewer people today have those leanings. Late deciders typically lack strong partisan attachments to guide their electoral choice. Consequently, they reach their vote decision on the basis of other factors--including political advertising and news coverage, which tend to be concentrated late in a campaign ( M. L. Young, 1987:186).
Early decider is a standard category pollsters use to classify voter behavior. Some other standard classifications commonly used are likely voter, ticket splitter, and undecided. All these labels efficiently summarize information derived from the poll and group respondents with others who exhibit the same political behavior ( Martin, 1983:697-702). See alsoRESPONDENT.
ECOLOGICAL FALLACY The logical error of inferring a single person's opinion from polling data about groups. Ecological fallacies present serious hazards for those analyzing survey results ( Sellitz, Wrightsman, and Cook, 1976:439-440).
A hung jury illustrates the conditions that can produce ecological fallacies: