Turnout Intention and Social Networks
How can networking affect the turnout in an election? We present a simple model to explain turnout as a result of a dynamic process of formation of the intention to vote within Erdös-Renyi random networks. Citizens have fixed preferences for one of two parties and are embedded in a given social network. They decide whether or not to vote on the basis of the attitude of their immediate contacts. They may simply follow the behavior of the majority (followers) or make an adaptive local calculus of voting (Downsian behavior). So they either have the intention of voting when the majority of their neighbors are willing to vote too, or they vote when they perceive in their social neighborhood that elections are "close". We study the long run average turnout, interpreted as the actual turnout observed in an election. Depending on the combination of values of the two key parameters, the average connectivity and the probability of behaving as a follower or in a Downsian fashion, the system exhibits monostability (zero turnout), bistability (zero turnout and either moderate or high turnout) or tristability (zero, moderate and high turnout). This means, in particular, that for a wide range of values of both parameters, we obtain realistic turnout rates, i.e. between 50% and 90%.
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