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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 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

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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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
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  10. 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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  14. Battaglini, Marco, 2005. "Sequential voting with abstention," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 445-463, May.
  15. Abdul Noury, 2004. "Abstention in Daylight: Strategic Calculus of Voting in the European Parliament," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 121(1), pages 179-211, October.
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  20. Abdul Ghafar Noury & Tom Coupé, 2004. "Choosing not to choose: on the link between information and abstention," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7756, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. " Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
  24. 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.
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