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The Swing Voter’s Curse in the Laboratory

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  • Marco Battaglini
  • Rebecca Morton
  • Thomas 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, and clearly reject the notion that voters in the laboratory use naïve decision-theoretic strategies. 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.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series Levine's Bibliography with number 321307000000000760.

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Date of creation: 12 Jan 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:321307000000000760

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References

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  1. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1029-1058, September.
  2. Coupe, Tom & Noury, Abdul G., 2004. "Choosing not to choose: on the link between information and abstention," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 261-265, August.
  3. Arthur Schram & John Sonnemans, 2001. "Voter Turnout as a Participation Game: An Experimental Investigation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000033, David K. Levine.
  4. Marco Battaglini & Rebecca Morton & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2006. "Efficiency, Equity, and Timing in Voting Mechanisms," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000205, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Timothy J. Fedderson & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1996. "Abstention in Elections with Asymmetric Information and Diverse Preferences," Discussion Papers 1195, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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  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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  15. David Dreyer Lassen, 2004. "The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," EPRU Working Paper Series 04-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  16. Timothy J. Feddersen, 2004. "Rational Choice Theory and the Paradox of Not Voting," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 99-112, Winter.
  17. Stephen Coate & Michael Conlin, 2004. "A Group Rule–Utilitarian Approach to Voter Turnout: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1476-1504, December.
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  20. Abdul Noury, 2004. "Abstention in Daylight: Strategic Calculus of Voting in the European Parliament," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 121(1), pages 179-211, October.
  21. Jens Großer & Tamar Kugler & Arthur Schram, 2003. "Preference Uncertainty, Voter Participation and Electoral Efficiency: An Experimental Study," Working Paper Series in Economics 2, University of Cologne, Department of Economics, revised 15 May 2005.
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  24. 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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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Cox, Caleb, 2014. "Cursed beliefs with common-value public goods," MPRA Paper 53074, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Gisle James Natvik & Jørgen Juel Andersen & Jon H. Fiva, 2010. "Voting when the stakes are high," Working Paper 2010/15, Norges Bank.
  5. Bischoff, Ivo & Egbert, Henrik, 2013. "Social information and bandwagon behavior in voting: An economic experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 270-284.
  6. John Duffy & Sourav Bhattacharya & Sun-Tak Kim, 2012. "Compulsory versus Voluntary Voting: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 492, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2013.
  7. Bruns, Christian, 2013. "Elections and Market Provision of Information," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79857, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  8. Oliveros, Santiago, 2013. "Abstention, ideology and information acquisition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(3), pages 871-902.
  9. Wolfgang Höchtl & Rupert Sausgruber & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2011. "Inequality Aversion and Voting on Redistribution," Discussion Papers 11-18, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  10. 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).
  11. Cesar Martinelli, 2011. "Ignorance and Naivete in Large Elections," Working Papers 1107, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  12. Battaglini, Marco & Makarov, Uliana, 2014. "Cheap talk with multiple audiences: An experimental analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 147-164.
  13. Sourav Bhattacharya, 2006. "Preference Monotonicity and Information Aggregation in Elections," Working Papers 325, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2008.
  14. Sourav Bhattacharya, 2013. "Condorcet Jury Theorem in a Spatial Model of Elections," Working Papers 517, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2013.
  15. Dittmann, Ingolf & Kübler, Dorothea & Maug, Ernst & Mechtenberg, Lydia, 2014. "Why votes have value: Instrumental voting with overconfidence and overestimation of others' errors," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 17-38.

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