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The Real Swing Voter's Curse

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  • James A. Robinson
  • Ragnar Torvik

Abstract

A key idea in political economy is that policy is often tailored to voters who are not ideologically attached - swing voters. We show, however, that in political environments where political parties can use repression and violence to exclude voters from elections, they may optimally target the swing voters. This is because they anticipate that if they had to compete for the support of these voters, they would end up giving them a lot of policy favors. Hence in weakly institutionalized political environments swing voters are cursed rather than blessed. We illustrate the analysis with a discussion of recent political events in Zimbabwe.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14799.

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Date of creation: Mar 2009
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Publication status: published as James A. Robinson & Ragnar Torvik, 2009. "The Real Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 310-15, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14799

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  1. Timothy J. Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1995. "The Swing Voter's Curse," Discussion Papers, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science 1064, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
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  1. The curse of the swing voter
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-03-26 14:31:00
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Cited by:
  1. Wolitzky, Alexander, 2013. "Endogenous institutions and political extremism," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 86-100.
  2. Andrea Colombo & Olivia D'Aoust & Olivier Sterck, 2014. "From Rebellion to Electoral Violence. Evidence from Burundi," Working Papers ECARES, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles ECARES 2014-33, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

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