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The Swing Voter’s Curse in the laboratory

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

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 teh size of the electorate, the distribution of preferences, and other theoretically relevant parameters. The design varies hte share of partisan voters and the prior elief abouta 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 naive decision-theoretic strategies. The voters act as if they are aware of the swing voter's curse and adjust their behavior to compensate. While the compensation is not complete and there is some heterogeneity in individual behavior, 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 California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences in its series Working Papers with number 1263.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:clt:sswopa:1263

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Postal: Working Paper Assistant, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, 228-77, Caltech, Pasadena CA 91125
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  1. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. " Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-46, March.
  2. Marco Battaglini & Rebecca Morton & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2006. "Efficiency, Equity, and Timing in Voting Mechanisms," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000205, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. " Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
  4. Battaglini, Marco, 2005. "Sequential voting with abstention," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 445-463, May.
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  7. 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.
  8. Vai-Lam Mui & Timothy N. Cason, 2004. "Uncertainty and Resistance to Reform in Laboratory Participation Games," Econometric Society 2004 Australasian Meetings 1, Econometric Society.
  9. McKelvey Richard D. & Palfrey Thomas R., 1995. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 6-38, July.
  10. 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.
  11. Richard Mckelvey & Thomas Palfrey, 1998. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Extensive Form Games," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 9-41, June.
  12. 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.
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  14. 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.
  15. 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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  17. 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.
  18. Erik Eyster & Matthew Rabin, 2005. "Cursed Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(5), pages 1623-1672, 09.
  19. Timothy J. Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1995. "The Swing Voter's Curse," Discussion Papers 1064, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  20. 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.
  21. Colin F. Camerer & Teck-Hua Ho & Juin-Kuan Chong, 2004. "A Cognitive Hierarchy Model of Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 861-898, August.
  22. 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.
  23. Abdul Noury, 2004. "Abstention in Daylight: Strategic Calculus of Voting in the European Parliament," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 121(1), pages 179-211, October.
  24. Stephen Hansen & Thomas Palfrey & Howard Rosenthal, 1987. "The Downsian model of electoral participation: Formal theory and empirical analysis of the constituency size effect," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(1), pages 15-33, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Ivo Bischoff & Henrik Egbert, 2010. "Social information and bandwagon behaviour in voting: an economic experiment," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201005, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  2. Valentino Larcinese, 2005. "Does political knowledge increase turnout? Evidence from the 1997 British general election," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3614, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Battaglini, Marco & Makarov, Uliana, 2014. "Cheap talk with multiple audiences: An experimental analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 147-164.
  4. 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.
  5. Andersen, Jørgen Juel & Fiva, Jon H. & Natvik, Gisle James, 2014. "Voting when the stakes are high," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 157-166.
  6. Oliveros, Santiago, 2013. "Abstention, ideology and information acquisition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(3), pages 871-902.
  7. Cox, Caleb, 2014. "Cursed beliefs with common-value public goods," MPRA Paper 53074, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. 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.
  9. 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).
  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. Sourav Bhattacharya, 2006. "Preference Monotonicity and Information Aggregation in Elections," Working Papers 325, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2008.
  12. Cesar Martinelli, 2011. "Ignorance and Naivete in Large Elections," Working Papers 1107, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  13. 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.
  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. Höchtl, Wolfgang & Sausgruber, Rupert & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2012. "Inequality aversion and voting on redistribution," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(7), pages 1406-1421.

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