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Public Opinion Polls, Voter Turnout, and Welfare: An Experimental Study

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  • Jens Großer
  • Arthur Schram

Abstract

We experimentally study the impact of public opinion poll releases on voter turnout and welfare in a participation game. We find higher overall turnout rates when polls inform the electorate about the levels of support for the candidates than when polls are prohibited. Distinguishing between allied and floating voters, our data show that this increase in turnout is entirely due to floating voters. When polls indicate equal levels of support for the candidates, turnout is high and welfare is low (compared to the situation without polls). In contrast, when polls reveal more unequal levels of support, turnout is lower with than without this information, while the effect of polls on welfare is nonnegative. Finally, many of our results are well predicted by quantal response (logit) equilibrium.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:amposc:v:54:y:2010:i:3:p:700-717
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00455.x
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00455.x
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    Cited by:

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    4. Herrera, Helios & Llorente-Saguer, Aniol & McMurray, Joseph C., 2019. "Information aggregation and turnout in proportional representation: A laboratory experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 179(C).
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    6. Großer, Jens & Reuben, Ernesto, 2013. "Redistribution and market efficiency: An experimental study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 39-52.
    7. Baghdasaryan, Vardan & Iannantuoni, Giovanna & Maggian, Valeria, 2019. "Electoral fraud and voter turnout: An experimental study," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 203-219.
    8. Wiśniowski, Arkadiusz & Bijak, Jakub & Forster, Jonathan J. & Smith, Peter W.F., 2019. "Hierarchical model for forecasting the outcomes of binary referenda," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 90-103.
    9. 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.
    10. Yasmine Bekkouche & Julia Cage, 2018. "The Price of a Vote: Evidence from France, 1993-2014," Working Papers Series 68, Institute for New Economic Thinking.
    11. Bekkouche, Yasmine & Cagé, Julia & Dewitte, Edgard, 2020. "The Heterogeneous Price of a Vote: Evidence from Multiparty Systems, 1993-2017," CEPR Discussion Papers 15150, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. 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.
    13. Alberto Grillo, 2017. "Risk aversion and bandwagon effect in the pivotal voter model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 172(3), pages 465-482, September.
    14. Yasmine Bekkouche & Julia Cage, 2019. "The Heterogeneous Price of a Vote: Evidence from France, 1993-2014," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2019-09, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
    15. Vardan, Baghdasaryan & Giovanna, Iannantuoni & Valeria, Maggian, 2015. "Electoral fraud and voter turnout," Working Papers 315, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 25 Nov 2015.
    16. Grillo, Alberto, 2019. "Voter turnout and government's legitimate mandate," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 252-265.
    17. 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.
    18. Arthur Schram, 2016. "Gordon Tullock and experimental public choice," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 214-226, June.
    19. Pedro Robalo, 2021. "Political Mobilization in the Laboratory: The Role of Norms and Communication," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(1), pages 1-40, March.
    20. Marcelo Tyszler & Arthur Schram, 2016. "Information and strategic voting," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(2), pages 360-381, June.
    21. Morton, Rebecca B. & Ou, Kai, 2015. "What motivates bandwagon voting behavior: Altruism or a desire to win?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 224-241.
    22. 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.
    23. Federico Revelli & Tsung-Sheng Tsai, 2019. "Ties," CESifo Working Paper Series 7786, CESifo.
    24. Christina Luxen, 2020. "Pollsand Elections: Strategic Respondents and Turnout Implications," ECONtribute Discussion Papers Series 020, University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany.

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