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Turned on or turned out? Campaign advertising, information and voting

  • Houser, Daniel
  • Morton, Rebecca
  • Stratmann, Thomas

We present results from laboratory experimental elections in which voter information is endogenously provided by candidates and voting is voluntary. We also compare advertisements that are costless to voters with those that reduce voter payoffs. We find that informative advertisements increase voter participation and thus informative campaign advertising turns out voters. However, the effect of information is less than that found in previous experimental studies where information is exogenously provided by the experimenter. Furthermore, we find that when advertising by winning candidates reduces voter payoffs, informed voters are less likely to participate, thus are turned off rather than turned out. Finally, we discover that candidates tend to overadvertise, and contrary to theoretical predictions, advertise significantly more when voting is voluntary than when it is compulsory.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 27 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 708-727

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Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:27:y:2011:i:4:p:708-727
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505544

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  1. Stephen Coate, 2004. "Pareto-Improving Campaign Finance Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 628-655, June.
  2. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972, 08.
  3. David Dreyer Lassen, 2004. "The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," EPRU Working Paper Series 04-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  4. Marco Battaglini & Rebecca B. Morton & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2008. "Information Aggregation and Strategic Abstention in Large Laboratory Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 194-200, May.
  5. Coupe, Tom & Noury, Abdul G., 2004. "Choosing not to choose: on the link between information and abstention," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 261-265, August.
  6. Richard J. Cebula, 2007. "Influences on the Voter Participation Rate," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 399-412, 04.
  7. Daniel Houser & Thomas Stratmann, 2008. "Selling favors in the lab: experiments on campaign finance reform," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 136(1), pages 215-239, July.
  8. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. " Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
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