Retrospective and Prospective Voting

Citizens may take either a retrospective or prospective approach to voting. Retrospective voting means making the decision on whom to elect by considering politicians’ track records (Benton, 2019). It is a backward-looking strategy where voters evaluate politicians’ past performance and re-elect incumbent leaders. On the other hand, prospective voting is a forward-looking strategy where citizens attempt to predict the future performance of the vying politicians. Voters elect the candidate that they believe will deliver the best results.

Some of the issues that Democrats and Republicans differ on include abortion, climate change, immigration, and gun control. While Democrats advocate for women’s right to access abortion services, Republicans are against abortion. In some states, such as Texas, Republicans want to restrict abortion rights. Additionally, they argue that taxes should not be used to fund abortion and family planning clinics. Second, Democrats say that climate change is a serious issue that requires government intervention, whereas Republicans do not think it is a pressing issue that should receive taxpayer funding (Benton, 2019). On the third issue, which is immigration, Democrats advocate for the incorporation of foreigners into American society because they make positive contributions. On the other hand, Republicans are anti-immigration and support measures such as deportation. Finally, Democrats want gun control laws to be enacted, while Republicans want existing gun laws to be relaxed.

Looking at a party’s platform to decide how to vote is an example of prospective voting since it involves analyzing the party’s goals and future plans, then making a decision. Voting prospectively is considered more difficult than voting retrospectively. In prospective voting, citizens elect leaders based entirely on their beliefs about the candidate’s future performance, which is difficult to do (Benton, 2019). In America, most citizens vote retrospectively since it is easier to elect candidates on the basis of past performance.


Benton, J. E. (2019). When Americans go to the polls, they look to the past – not the future. The Conversation. Web.

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"Retrospective and Prospective Voting." DemoEssays, 1 Aug. 2023,


DemoEssays. (2023) 'Retrospective and Prospective Voting'. 1 August.


DemoEssays. 2023. "Retrospective and Prospective Voting." August 1, 2023.

1. DemoEssays. "Retrospective and Prospective Voting." August 1, 2023.


DemoEssays. "Retrospective and Prospective Voting." August 1, 2023.