We propose a framework for analysing party elite perceptions of voting behaviour based on four party competition and voting behaviour models: the Downsian proximity, saliency, competence and directional models. We analyse whether and to what extent party elite perceptions support these theories of party competition and voting behaviour. Empirical analysis is based solely on internal party documents from two Swedish parties, the Social Democrats and the Conservatives, from 1964 to 1988/1991. We demonstrate that elements of all four party competition models have characterized Swedish party elite thinking and reasoning about voting behaviour in recent decades. Discussion in the Social Democratic elite was most in line with Downs' model. Until the mid-1970s, Downs' model tended to be combined with the competence model and thereafter with the saliency model. The Conservative elite clearly favoured the salience and competence models until the early 1970s and the saliency and Downs' models since then.