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Public information and electoral bias


  • Taylor, Curtis R.
  • Yildirim, Huseyin


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Taylor, Curtis R. & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2010. "Public information and electoral bias," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 353-375, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:68:y:2010:i:1:p:353-375

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ottaviani, Marco & Sorensen, Peter Norman, 2006. "The strategy of professional forecasting," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 441-466, August.
    2. 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.
    3. Martinelli, Cesar, 2006. "Would rational voters acquire costly information?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 129(1), pages 225-251, July.
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    6. Klor, Esteban F & Winter, Eyal, 2006. "On Public Opinion Polls and Voters' Turnout," CEPR Discussion Papers 5669, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Jeffrey S. Rosenthal & Martin J. Osborne & Matthew A. Turner, 2000. "Meetings with Costly Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 927-943, September.
    8. repec:cup:apsrev:v:79:y:1985:i:01:p:62-78_22 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Dutta, Bhaskar & Jackson, Matthew O & Le Breton, Michel, 2001. "Strategic Candidacy and Voting Procedures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(4), pages 1013-1037, July.
    10. Colin M. Campbell, 1999. "Large Electorates and Decisive Minorities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1199-1217, December.
    11. repec:cup:apsrev:v:101:y:2007:i:01:p:143-158_07 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. Acemoglu,Daron & Robinson,James A., 2009. "Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671422, March.
    15. Jacob Goeree & Jens Großer, 2007. "Welfare Reducing Polls," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 31(1), pages 51-68, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Degan, Arianna & Li, Ming, 2015. "Psychologically-based voting with uncertainty," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 242-259.
    2. Ming Li & Dipjyoti Majumdar, 2010. "A Psychologically Based Model of Voter Turnout," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 12(5), pages 979-1002, October.
    3. Andonie, Costel & Kuzmics, Christoph, 2012. "Pre-election polls as strategic coordination devices," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 681-700.
    4. repec:kap:pubcho:v:172:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0457-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Panova, Elena, 2015. "A passion for voting," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 44-65.
    6. Hans Gersbach & Akaki Mamageishvili & Oriol Tejada, 2017. "Assessment Voting in Large Electorates," Papers 1712.05470,, revised Feb 2018.
    7. Cesar Martinelli & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2017. "Communication and Information in Games of Collective Decision: A Survey of Experimental Results," Working Papers 1065, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
    8. Dino Gerardi & Margaret A. McConnell & Julian Romero & Leeat Yariv, 2016. "Get Out The (Costly) Vote: Institutional Design For Greater Participation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(4), pages 1963-1979, October.
    9. Taylor, Curtis R. & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2010. "A unified analysis of rational voting with private values and group-specific costs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 457-471, November.
    10. repec:eee:gamebe:v:106:y:2017:i:c:p:38-50 is not listed on IDEAS


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