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The Swing Voter's Curse in the Laboratory

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  • Marco Battaglini
  • Rebecca B. Morton
  • Thomas R. Palfrey

Abstract

This paper reports the first laboratory study of the swing voter's curse and provides insights on the larger theoretical and empirical literature on "pivotal voter" models. Our experiment controls for different information levels of voters, as well as the size of the electorate, the distribution of preferences and other theoretically relevant parameters. The design varies the share of partisan voters and the prior belief about a payoff relevant state of the world. Our results support the equilibrium predictions of the Feddersen-Pesendorfer model. The voters act as if they are aware of the swing voter's curse and adjust their behaviour to compensate. While the compensation is not complete and there is some heterogeneity in individual behaviour, we find that aggregate outcomes, such as efficiency, turnout and margin of victory, closely track the theoretical predictions. Copyright , Wiley-Blackwell.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 77 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 61-89

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Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:77:y:2010:i:1:p:61-89

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  1. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1994. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Discussion Papers 1117, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 1996. "Voter Turnout as a Participation Game: An Experimental Investigation," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 385-406.
  3. Eyster, Erik & Rabin, Matt, 2002. "Cursed Equilibrium," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt6xf4782t, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  4. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. " Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
  5. Battaglini, Marco, 2004. "Sequential Voting with Abstention," Papers 05-19-2004, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
  6. Cason, Timothy N. & Mui, Vai-Lam, 2005. "Uncertainty and resistance to reform in laboratory participation games," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 708-737, September.
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  8. Battaglini, Marco & Morton, Rebecca & Palfrey, Thomas, 2005. "Efficiency, Equity, and Timing in Voting Mechanisms," Papers 09-19-2005c, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
  9. Stephen Coate & Michael Conlin & Andrea Moro, 2004. "The Performance of the Pivotal-Voter Model in Small-Scale Elections: Evidence from Texas Liquor Referenda," NBER Working Papers 10797, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. John Ledyard, 1984. "The pure theory of large two-candidate elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 7-41, January.
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  15. Nagel, Rosemarie, 1995. "Unraveling in Guessing Games: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1313-26, December.
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  17. Barry Nalebuff & Roni Shachar, 1997. "Follow The Leader: Theory And Evidence On Political Participation," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm57, Yale School of Management.
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  19. W. Crain & Donald Leavens & Lynn Abbot, 1987. "Voting and not voting at the same time," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 53(3), pages 221-229, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Höchtl, Wolfgang & Sausgruber, Rupert & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2012. "Inequality aversion and voting on redistribution," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(7), pages 1406-1421.
  2. Bhattacharya, Sourav & Duffy, John & Kim, Sun-Tak, 2014. "Compulsory versus voluntary voting: An experimental study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 111-131.
  3. Christian Bruns, 2013. "Elections and Market Provision of Information," CESifo Working Paper Series 4091, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Sourav Bhattacharya, 2006. "Preference Monotonicity and Information Aggregation in Elections," Working Papers 325, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2008.
  5. Cesar Martinelli, 2011. "Ignorance and Naivete in Large Elections," Working Papers 1107, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  6. Valentino Larcinese, 2007. "Does political knowledge increase turnout? Evidence from the 1997 British general election," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 131(3), pages 387-411, June.
  7. Cox, Caleb, 2014. "Cursed beliefs with common-value public goods," MPRA Paper 53074, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Oliveros, Santiago, 2013. "Abstention, ideology and information acquisition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(3), pages 871-902.
  9. Battaglini, Marco & Makarov, Uliana, 2014. "Cheap talk with multiple audiences: An experimental analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 147-164.
  10. Daniel Houser & Sandra Ludwig & Thomas Stratmann, 2009. "Does Deceptive Advertising Reduce Political Participation? Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 1011, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
  11. Ivo Bischoff & Thomas Krauskopf, 2013. "Motives of pro-social behavior in individual versus collective decisions – a comparative experimental study," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201319, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  12. Jørgen Juel Andersen & Jon H. Fiva & Gisle James Natvik, 2010. "Voting when the Stakes are High," CESifo Working Paper Series 3167, CESifo Group Munich.
  13. Sourav Bhattacharya, 2013. "Condorcet Jury Theorem in a Spatial Model of Elections," Working Papers 517, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2013.

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