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Public Opinion Polls, Voter Turnout, and Welfare: An Experimental Study

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  • Jens Großer

    ()

  • Arthur Schram

    ()

Abstract

We experimentally study the impact of public opinion poll releases on voter turnout and welfare in a participation game. We find higher turnout rates when polls inform the electorate about the levels of support for various candidates than when polls are prohibited. Distinguishing between allied and floating voters, our data show that this increase in turnout is entirely due to floating voters. Very high turnout is observed when polls indicate equal support levels for the candidates. This has negative consequences for welfare. Though in aggregate social welfare is hardly affected, majorities benefit more often from polls than minorities. Finally, our comparative static results are better predicted by quantal response (logit) equilibrium than by Bayesian Nash equilibrium.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Siena in its series Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena with number 014.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
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Handle: RePEc:usi:labsit:014

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Keywords: laboratory experiments.;

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  1. McKelvey, Richard D. & Ordeshook, Peter C., 1985. "Elections with limited information: A fulfilled expectations model using contemporaneous poll and endorsement data as information sources," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 55-85, June.
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  14. John Duffy & Margit Tavits, 2006. "Beliefs and Voting Decisions: A Test of the Pivotal Voter Model," Working Papers 273, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised May 2007.
  15. 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.
  16. George J. Mailath & Steven A. Matthews & Tadashi Sekiguchi, 2001. "Private Strategies in Finitely Repeated Games with Imperfect Public Monitoring," Penn CARESS Working Papers e7304519c6d1562163dbaf181, Penn Economics Department.
  17. Charles Zech, 1975. "Leibenstein's bandwagon effect as applied to voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 117-122, March.
  18. Kenneth Brown & Charles Zech, 1973. "Welfare effects of announcing election forecasts," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 117-123, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Thomas Jensen & Asger Lau Andersen, 2010. "Exit Polls and Voter Turnout," EPRU Working Paper Series 2010-10, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  2. Luca Corazzini & Sebastian Kube & Michel André Maréchal & Antonio Nicolò, 2009. "Elections and deceptions: an experimental study on the behavioral effects of democracy," IEW - Working Papers 421, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich, revised Aug 2013.
  3. Marcelo Tyszler & Arthur Schram, 2011. "Information and Strategic Voting," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-025/1, Tinbergen Institute.

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