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Pre-Election Polling and the Rational Voter: Evidence from State Panel Data (1986–1998)

  • Mitch Kunce

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    This study examines the role of pre-election perceptions of race closeness, by way of newspaper polls, in motivating citizens to vote on a specific contest while in the voting booth. Results from an error components model (random effects), employing state panel data of concurrent gubernatorial and Senate elections for the period 1986 to 1998, fail to bolster the rational voter hypothesis that perceived closeness matters. The extent to which pre-election perception matters is shown to depend directly on how one measures the likelihood of a close contest. In contrast, few long-standing variables, inherent to the voting literature, have any impact on “within-booth” voting behavior. The majority of within-booth abstention is left unexplained; furthering the notion of Matsusaka and Palda (1999) that the act of voting, indeed, may be random. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1023/A:1010351731929
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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

    Volume (Year): 107 (2001)
    Issue (Month): 1 (April)
    Pages: 21-34

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:107:y:2001:i:1:p:21-34
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

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    1. W. Crain & Donald Leavens & Lynn Abbot, 1987. "Voting and not voting at the same time," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 53(3), pages 221-229, January.
    2. Matsusaka, John G, 1993. " Election Closeness and Voter Turnout: Evidence from California Ballot Propositions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 76(4), pages 313-34, August.
    3. Hausman, Jerry A, 1978. "Specification Tests in Econometrics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1251-71, November.
    4. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. " Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
    5. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. " Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-46, March.
    6. Peters, Emory, 1998. " The Rational Voter Paradox Revisited," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 97(1-2), pages 179-95, October.
    7. Barry Nalebuff & Ron Shachar, 1999. "Follow the Leader: Theory and Evidence on Political Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 525-547, June.
    8. Mutsusaka, J.G. & Palda, F., 1991. "The Downsian Voter Meets the Ecological Fallacy," Papers 91-30, Southern California - School of Business Administration.
    9. Timothy J. Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1995. "The Swing Voter's Curse," Discussion Papers 1064, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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