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What makes voters turn out: the effects of polls and beliefs


Agranov, Marina; Goeree, Jacob K; Romero, Julian; Yariv, Leeat (2012). What makes voters turn out: the effects of polls and beliefs. Working paper series / Department of Economics 67, University of Zurich.

Abstract

We use laboratory experiments to test for one of the foundations of the rational voter paradigm - that voters respond to probabilities of being pivotal.
We exploit a setup that entails stark theoretical effects of information concerning the preference distribution (as revealed through polls) on costly participation decisions. The data reveal several insights. First, voting propensity increases systematically with subjects' predictions of their preferred alternative's advantage. Consequently, pre-election polls do not exhibit the detrimental welfare effects that extant theoretical work predicts. They lead to more participation by the expected majority and generate more landslide elections. Finally, we investigate subjects' behavior in polls and identify when Bandwagon and Underdog Effects arise.

Abstract

We use laboratory experiments to test for one of the foundations of the rational voter paradigm - that voters respond to probabilities of being pivotal.
We exploit a setup that entails stark theoretical effects of information concerning the preference distribution (as revealed through polls) on costly participation decisions. The data reveal several insights. First, voting propensity increases systematically with subjects' predictions of their preferred alternative's advantage. Consequently, pre-election polls do not exhibit the detrimental welfare effects that extant theoretical work predicts. They lead to more participation by the expected majority and generate more landslide elections. Finally, we investigate subjects' behavior in polls and identify when Bandwagon and Underdog Effects arise.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:C92, D02, D72
Uncontrolled Keywords:Collective choice, polls, strategic voting
Language:English
Date:March 2012
Deposited On:27 Mar 2012 12:36
Last Modified:13 Aug 2017 06:51
Series Name:Working paper series / Department of Economics
Number of Pages:31
ISSN:1664-7041
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/wp/econwp067.pdf
Related URLs:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/workingpapers.php

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