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What Makes Voters Turn Out: The Effects of Polls and Beliefs

Author

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  • Marina Agranov
  • Jacob K Goeree
  • Julian Romero
  • Leeat Yariv

Abstract

We use laboratory experiments to test for one of the foundations of the rational voter paradigm—that voters respond to probabilities of being pivotal. We exploit a setup that entails stark theoretical effects of information concerning the preference distribution (as revealed through polls) on costly participation decisions. We find that voting propensity increases systematically with subjects’ predictions of their preferred alternative’s advantage. Consequently, pre-election polls do not exhibit the detrimental welfare effects that extant theoretical work predicts. They lead to more participation by the expected majority and generate more landslide elections.

Suggested Citation

  • Marina Agranov & Jacob K Goeree & Julian Romero & Leeat Yariv, 2018. "What Makes Voters Turn Out: The Effects of Polls and Beliefs," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 825-856.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jeurec:v:16:y:2018:i:3:p:825-856.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/jeea/jvx023
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jens Großer & Arthur Schram, 2010. "Public Opinion Polls, Voter Turnout, and Welfare: An Experimental Study," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 54(3), pages 700-717, July.
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    3. Alan Gerber & Mitchell Hoffman & John Morgan & Collin Raymond, 2020. "One in a Million: Field Experiments on Perceived Closeness of the Election and Voter Turnout," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 287-325, July.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Marina Agranov, Jacob Goeree, Julian Romero, and Leaat Yariv (JEEA, 2018). What makes voters turn out: The effects of polls and beliefs.
      by ireadeconpapers in I Read Econ Papers on 2020-05-07 21:08:53

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Alan Gerber & Mitchell Hoffman & John Morgan & Collin Raymond, 2020. "One in a Million: Field Experiments on Perceived Closeness of the Election and Voter Turnout," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 287-325, July.
    2. Thomas Fujiwara & Carlos Sanz, 2017. "Norms in bargaining: evidence from government formation in Spain," Working Papers 1741, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    3. Marco Faravelli & Kenan Kalayci & Carlos Pimienta, 2020. "Costly voting: a large-scale real effort experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 23(2), pages 468-492, June.
    4. Alberto Grillo, 2017. "Risk aversion and bandwagon effect in the pivotal voter model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 172(3), pages 465-482, September.
    5. Panova, Elena, 2015. "A passion for voting," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 44-65.
    6. Laurent Bouton & Micael Castanheira & Allan Drazen, 2018. "A Theory of Small Campaign Contributions," NBER Working Papers 24413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Hans Gersbach & Akaki Mamageishvili & Oriol Tejada, 2017. "Assessment Voting in Large Electorates," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 17/284, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    8. Bernardo Moreno & María del Pino Ramos-Sosa & Ismael Rodriguez-Lara, 2019. "Conformity and truthful voting under different voting rules," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 53(2), pages 261-282, August.
    9. Gersbach, Hans & Mamageishvili, Akaki & Tejada, Oriol, 2019. "The Effect of Handicaps on Turnout for Large Electorates: An Application to Assessment Voting," CEPR Discussion Papers 13921, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. 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.
    11. Federico Revelli & Tsung-Sheng Tsai, 2019. "Ties," CESifo Working Paper Series 7786, CESifo.
    12. Melis Kartal, 2015. "Laboratory elections with endogenous turnout: proportional representation versus majoritarian rule," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(3), pages 366-384, September.
    13. Degan, Arianna & Li, Ming, 2015. "Psychologically-based voting with uncertainty," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 242-259.
    14. Thomas R Palfrey & Kirill Pogorelskiy, 2019. "Communication Among Voters Benefits the Majority Party," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(618), pages 961-990.
    15. Aristotelis Boukouras & Will Jennings & Lunzheng Li & Zacharias Maniadis, 2019. "Can Biased Polls Distort Electoral Results? Evidence from the Lab and the Field," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000001528, David K. Levine.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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