IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/aejapp/v12y2020i3p287-325.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

One in a Million: Field Experiments on Perceived Closeness of the Election and Voter Turnout

Author

Listed:
  • Alan Gerber
  • Mitchell Hoffman
  • John Morgan
  • Collin Raymond

Abstract

During the 2010 gubernatorial elections, we elicit voter beliefs about the closeness of the election before and after showing different polls, which, depending on treatment, indicate a close or not-close race. Subjects update their beliefs in response to polls, but overestimate the probability of a very close election. However, turnout is unaffected by beliefs about election closeness. A follow-up RCT, conducted during the 2014 gubernatorial elections at much larger scale, also points to little relationship between poll information about closeness and turnout. We caveat that the strength of our evidence depends on assumptions regarding our treatments' impacts on beliefs.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan Gerber & Mitchell Hoffman & John Morgan & Collin Raymond, 2020. "One in a Million: Field Experiments on Perceived Closeness of the Election and Voter Turnout," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 287-325, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:12:y:2020:i:3:p:287-325
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.20180574
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.aeaweb.org/doi/10.1257/app.20180574
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://www.aeaweb.org/doi/10.1257/app.20180574.data
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://www.aeaweb.org/doi/10.1257/app.20180574.appx
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://www.aeaweb.org/doi/10.1257/app.20180574.ds
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mulligan, Casey B & Hunter, Charles G, 2003. "The Empirical Frequency of a Pivotal Vote," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 116(1-2), pages 31-54, July.
    2. Cason, Timothy N. & Mui, Vai-Lam, 2005. "Uncertainty and resistance to reform in laboratory participation games," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 708-737, September.
    3. Chad Kendall & Tommaso Nannicini & Francesco Trebbi, 2015. "How Do Voters Respond to Information? Evidence from a Randomized Campaign," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(1), pages 322-353, January.
    4. John Duffy & Margit Tavits, 2008. "Beliefs and Voting Decisions: A Test of the Pivotal Voter Model," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 52(3), pages 603-618, July.
    5. Marina Agranov & Jacob K Goeree & Julian Romero & Leeat Yariv, 2018. "What Makes Voters Turn Out: The Effects of Polls and Beliefs," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 825-856.
    6. Shayo, Moses & Harel, Alon, 2012. "Non-consequentialist voting," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 299-313.
    7. Angela A. Hung & Charles R. Plott, 2001. "Information Cascades: Replication and an Extension to Majority Rule and Conformity-Rewarding Institutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1508-1520, December.
    8. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    9. Jens Großer & Arthur Schram, 2010. "Public Opinion Polls, Voter Turnout, and Welfare: An Experimental Study," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 54(3), pages 700-717, July.
    10. Thomas Fujiwara & Kyle Meng & Tom Vogl, 2016. "Habit Formation in Voting: Evidence from Rainy Elections," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 160-188, October.
    11. Stock, James H & Wright, Jonathan H & Yogo, Motohiro, 2002. "A Survey of Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Generalized Method of Moments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(4), pages 518-529, October.
    12. Emir Kamenica & Louisa Egan Brad, 2014. "Voters, dictators, and peons: expressive voting and pivotality," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(1), pages 159-176, April.
    13. Ronny Razin, 2003. "Signaling and Election Motivations in a Voting Model with Common Values and Responsive Candidates," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(4), pages 1083-1119, July.
    14. Coate, Stephen & Conlin, Michael & Moro, Andrea, 2008. "The performance of pivotal-voter models in small-scale elections: Evidence from Texas liquor referenda," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 582-596, April.
    15. Matsusaka, John G, 1993. "Election Closeness and Voter Turnout: Evidence from California Ballot Propositions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 76(4), pages 313-334, August.
    16. Bursztyn, Leonardo & Cantoni, Davide & Funk, Patricia & Yuchtman, Noam, 2017. "Polls, the Press, and Political Participation: The Effects of Anticipated Election Closeness on Voter Turnout," CEPR Discussion Papers 12088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Gerber, Alan S. & Green, Donald P. & Larimer, Christopher W., 2008. "Social Pressure and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 102(1), pages 33-48, February.
    18. Harbaugh, W T, 1996. "If People Vote Because They Like to, Then Why Do So Many of Them Lie?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 89(1-2), pages 63-76, October.
    19. Basit Zafar, 2011. "Can subjective expectations data be used in choice models? evidence on cognitive biases," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(3), pages 520-544, April.
    20. Stephen Coate & Michael Conlin, 2004. "A Group Rule–Utilitarian Approach to Voter Turnout: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1476-1504, December.
    21. Blais, Andre & Young, Robert, 1999. "Why Do People Vote? An Experiment in Rationality," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(1-2), pages 39-55, April.
    22. Manfred Gartner, 1976. "Endogenous bandwagon and underdog effects in a rational choice model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 83-89, March.
    23. 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.
    24. Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2004. "Voting when money and morals conflict: an experimental test of expressive voting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1645-1664, July.
    25. Melis Kartal, 2015. "Laboratory elections with endogenous turnout: proportional representation versus majoritarian rule," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(3), pages 366-384, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Louis Kaplow & Scott Duke Kominers, 2020. "On the Representativeness of Voter Turnout," NBER Working Papers 26913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Marina Agranov & Jacob K Goeree & Julian Romero & Leeat Yariv, 2018. "What Makes Voters Turn Out: The Effects of Polls and Beliefs," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 825-856.
    3. Yasmine Bekkouche & Julia Cage, 2018. "The Price of a Vote: Evidence from France, 1993-2014," Working Papers Series 68, Institute for New Economic Thinking.
    4. Bursztyn, Leonardo & Cantoni, Davide & Funk, Patricia & Yuchtman, Noam, 2017. "Polls, the Press, and Political Participation: The Effects of Anticipated Election Closeness on Voter Turnout," CEPR Discussion Papers 12088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Gersbach, Hans & Mamageishvili, Akaki & Tejada, Oriol, 2019. "The Effect of Handicaps on Turnout for Large Electorates: An Application to Assessment Voting," CEPR Discussion Papers 13921, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Yasmine Bekkouche & Julia Cage, 2019. "The Heterogeneous Price of a Vote: Evidence from France, 1993-2014," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2019-09, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
    7. Spenkuch, Jörg L., 2018. "Expressive vs. strategic voters: An empirical assessment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 73-81.
    8. Federico Revelli & Tsung-Sheng Tsai, 2019. "Ties," CESifo Working Paper Series 7786, CESifo.
    9. Davide Cantoni & David Y Yang & Noam Yuchtman & Y Jane Zhang, 2019. "Protests as Strategic Games: Experimental Evidence from Hong Kong's Antiauthoritarian Movement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 134(2), pages 1021-1077.
    10. Davide Cantoni & David Y. Yang & Noam Yuchtman & Y. Jane Zhang, 2017. "Are Protests Games of Strategic Complements or Substitutes? Experimental Evidence from Hong Kong's Democracy Movement," NBER Working Papers 23110, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Hufe, Paul & Peichl, Andreas, 2016. "Beyond equal rights: Equality of opportunity in political participation," ZEW Discussion Papers 16-068, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    12. Aristotelis Boukouras & Will Jennings & Lunzheng Li & Zacharias Maniadis, 2019. "Can Biased Polls Distort Electoral Results? Evidence From The Lab And The Field," Discussion Papers in Economics 19/06, Division of Economics, School of Business, University of Leicester.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:12:y:2020:i:3:p:287-325. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael P. Albert). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.