Conventional polls try to predict the results of elections by asking voters which policies they prefer, which parties they support, and what their ideological opinions are. None of these methods works well in Japan, so we decided to find out why.

We discovered that most Japanese voters don't see these as being the most important factors in their voting decisions. For the majority, politics isn't seen as being an ideological combat between opposing worldviews. Instead, it's seen in managerial terms. When voters go to the polls, they are looking for a competent, successful and charismatic CEO to direct the country - even if they disagree with the policies he is proposing.

This helps to explain why PM Shinzo Abe and the LDP are so successful, despite the fact that a relatively high number of voters dislike their policies.

This also has implications for the design of future opinion polls in Japan. Asking voters which policies they favour or whether they consider themselves to be on the left or the right isn't much help in predicting election results. On the other hand, if you ask them which parties and politicians they see as being competent and successful, you stand a much better chance of predicting the real outcome of future votes.

Read more here.