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

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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.

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  • 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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    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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    11. 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.
    12. Coate, Stephen & Conlin, Michael & Moro, Andrea, 2008. "The performance of pivotal-voter models in small-scale elections: Evidence from Texas liquor referenda," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 582-596, April.
    13. Stephen Coate & Michael Conlin, 2004. "A Group Rule–Utilitarian Approach to Voter Turnout: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1476-1504, December.
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    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. Degan, Arianna & Li, Ming, 2015. "Psychologically-based voting with uncertainty," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 242-259.
    2. Jacob K. Goeree & Leeat Yariv, 2015. "Conformity in the lab," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(1), pages 15-28, July.
    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.
    4. Laurent Bouton & Micael Castanheira & Allan Drazen, 2018. "A Theory of Small Campaign Contributions," NBER Working Papers 24413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Alberto Grillo, 2017. "Risk aversion and bandwagon effect in the pivotal voter model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 172(3), pages 465-482, September.
    6. Panova, Elena, 2015. "A passion for voting," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 44-65.
    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. 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.
    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. Christina Luxen, 2020. "Pollsand Elections: Strategic Respondents and Turnout Implications," ECONtribute Discussion Papers Series 020, University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. Pereira Santos, João & Tavares, José & Vicente, Pedro C, 2019. "Can ATMs Get Out the Vote? Evidence from a Nationwide Field Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 13991, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Sun, Junze & Schram, Arthur & Sloof, Randolph, 2021. "Elections under biased candidate endorsements — an experimental study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 141-158.
    17. Aristotelis Boukouras & Will Jennings & Lunzheng Li & Zacharias Maniadis, 2019. "Can Biased Polls Distort Electoral Results? Evidence From The Lab And The Field," Discussion Papers in Economics 19/06, Division of Economics, School of Business, University of Leicester.
    18. Thomas Fujiwara & Carlos Sanz, 2020. "Rank Effects in Bargaining: Evidence from Government Formation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 1261-1295.
    19. Thomas Fujiwara & Carlos Sanz, 2017. "Norms in bargaining: evidence from government formation in Spain," Working Papers 1741, Banco de España.
    20. Sebastian Fehrler & Baiba Renerte & Irenaeus Wolff, 2020. "Beliefs about Others: A Striking Example of Information Neglect," TWI Research Paper Series 118, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
    21. Federico Revelli & Tsung-Sheng Tsai, 2019. "Ties," CESifo Working Paper Series 7786, CESifo.
    22. Ambrus, Attila & Greiner, Ben & Sastro, Anne, 2017. "The case for nil votes: Voter behavior under asymmetric information in compulsory and voluntary voting systems," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 34-48.
    23. Thomas R Palfrey & Kirill Pogorelskiy, 2019. "Communication Among Voters Benefits the Majority Party," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(618), pages 961-990.

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    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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