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Voting and not voting at the same time

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  • W. Crain
  • Donald Leavens
  • Lynn Abbot

Abstract

The marginal abstention hypothesis is that once at the polls, individuals are more likely to vote in the closer races on the ballot and to abstain from voting in the safer races. This hypothesis is a straightforward extension of the rational voting model. In previous empirical applications of the rational voter theory, voter turnout and voting in a given election are treated as one in the same. These studies have produced mixed results. When applied to the problem of explaining marginal voting behavior, the theory works well. Data on a recent sample of U.S. House and Senate elections is used to test the marginal abstention hypothesis. In the average Congressional District, about three percent more people vote in the Senate race than in the House race. This difference varies in a fashion predictable by the theory. Copyright Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 1987

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:53:y:1987:i:3:p:221-229
    DOI: 10.1007/BF00127347
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. R. Tollison & T. Willett, 1973. "Some simple economics of voting and not voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 59-71, September.
    2. W. Crain & Thomas Deaton, 1977. "A note on political participation as consumption behavior," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 131-135, December.
    3. Richard Cebula & Dennis Murphy, 1980. "The Electoral College and voter participation rates: An exploratory note," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 185-190, January.
    4. 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.
    5. Crain, W Mark, 1977. "An Empirical Estimate of the Income Elasticity of Political Participation," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(1), pages 122-125.
    6. Bruno Frey, 1971. "Why do high income people participate more in politics?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 101-105, September.
    7. Melvin Hinich, 1981. "Voting as an act of contribution," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 135-140, January.
    8. Yoram Barzel & Eugene Silberberg, 1973. "Is the act of voting rational?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 51-58, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marco Battaglini & Rebecca B. Morton & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2010. "The Swing Voter's Curse in the Laboratory," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 61-89.
    2. David Stadelmann & Benno Torgler, 2012. "Bounded Rationality and Voting Decisions Exploring a 160-Year Period," Working Papers 2012.70, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    3. Mitch Kunce, 2001. "Pre-Election Polling and the Rational Voter: Evidence from State Panel Data (1986–1998)," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 107(1), pages 21-34, April.
    4. Christopher Hanks & Bernhard Grofman, 1998. "Turnout in gubernatorial and senatorial primary and general elections in the South, 1922–90: A rational choice model of the effects of short-run and long-run electoral competition on relative turnout," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(3), pages 407-421, March.

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