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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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Suggested Citation

  • James A. Robinson & Ragnar Torvik, 2009. "The Real Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 310-315, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:2:p:310-15
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.2.310
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
    2. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-424, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Radosław Piwowarski, 2015. "Swing voters distribution into the income groups in Poland in the years 2001-2011: Probabilistic voting model perspective," Ekonomia journal, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw, vol. 40.
    2. Iván Higuera Mendieta, 2017. "Control armado y comportamiento electoral: Un cuasi-experimento en el Caguán," Documentos de trabajo sobre Economía Regional y Urbana 256, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    3. Andrea Colombo & Olivia D'Aoust & Olivier C. Sterck, 2014. "From Rebellion to Electoral Violence: Evidence from Burundi," CSAE Working Paper Series 2014-20-2, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    4. Olivier Sterck, 2015. "Fighting for votes: theory and evidence on the causes of electoral violence," CSAE Working Paper Series 2015-19-2, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    5. Wolitzky, Alexander, 2013. "Endogenous institutions and political extremism," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 86-100.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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