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Public information and electoral bias

  • Taylor, Curtis R.
  • Yildirim, Huseyin
Registered author(s):

    We present a theory of voting that predicts that elections are more likely to be close, and voter turnout is more likely to be high when citizens possess better public information about the composition of the electorate. These findings suggest that providing more information to potential voters about aggregate political preferences (e.g., through pre-election polls or expert forecasts) may undermine the democratic process. Our analysis reveals that if the distribution of political preferences is common knowledge, then the unique type-symmetric equilibrium leads to a stark neutrality result in which each alternative is equally likely to win the election. By contrast, when citizens are ignorant about the preference distribution, the majority is more likely to win the election and expected voter turnout is lower. Welfare is, therefore, unambiguously higher when citizens possess less information about the preference distribution.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6WFW-4WNXV04-2/2/fb960788eca8568d9215ec7b0566b86b
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

    Volume (Year): 68 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 353-375

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:68:y:2010:i:1:p:353-375
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

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    1. Roger B. Myerson, 1994. "Population Uncertainty and Poisson Games," Discussion Papers 1102, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    2. Curtis R. Taylor & Huseyin Yildirim, 2006. "An Analysis of Rational Voting with Private Values and Cost Uncertainty," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000060, UCLA Department of Economics.
    3. Cesar Martinelli, 2002. "Would Rational Voters Acquire Costly Information?," Working Papers 0210, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
    4. DUTTA, Bhaskar & JACKSON, Matthew O. & LE BRETON, Michel, 1999. "Strategic candidacy and voting procedures," CORE Discussion Papers 1999011, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    5. Krasa, Stefan & Polborn, Mattias K., 2009. "Is mandatory voting better than voluntary voting?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 275-291, May.
    6. Marco Ottaviani & Peter Norman Sørensen, 2004. "The Strategy of Professional Forecasting," FRU Working Papers 2004/05, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Finance Research Unit.
    7. Roger B. Myerson, 1997. "Large Poisson Games," Discussion Papers 1189, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    8. 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.
    9. Colin M. Campbell, 1999. "Large Electorates and Decisive Minorities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1199-1217, December.
    10. Klor, Esteban F & Winter, Eyal, 2006. "On Public Opinion Polls and Voters' Turnout," CEPR Discussion Papers 5669, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521855266 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Martin Osborne & Jeffry Rosenthal & Matthew A. Turner, 1998. "Meetings with costly participation," Working Papers mturner-98-02, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    13. Jacob Goeree & Jens Großer, 2007. "Welfare Reducing Polls," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 51-68, April.
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