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Election Closeness and Voter Turnout: Evidence from California Ballot Propositions

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  • Matsusaka, J.C.

Abstract

This paper uses a new data set of 885 California ballot propositions from 1912 through 1990 to test the hypothesis that voter turnout increases as an election becomes closer. Various measures of voter participation are regressed on various measures of election closeness. The main finding is that there is not a systematic relation between closeness and turnout. Two conclusions are drawn: (1) voters are not sensitive to the probability their votes are decisive and (2) other studies that found higher turnout for close elections probably detected an increased mobilization of party elites in tight races. Copyright 1993 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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Suggested Citation

  • Matsusaka, J.C., 1991. "Election Closeness and Voter Turnout: Evidence from California Ballot Propositions," Papers 91-29, Southern California - School of Business Administration.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:socabu:91-29
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    Cited by:

    1. Herrera, Helios & Martinelli, Cesar, 2006. "Group formation and voter participation," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 1(4), pages 461-487, December.
    2. Jeffrey Milyo & David M. Primo, 2005. "The Effects of Campaign Finance Laws on Turnout, 1950-2000," Working Papers 0516, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 01 Feb 2006.
    3. Richard Cebula & Franklin Mixon, 2012. "Dodging the vote?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 325-343, February.
    4. Luís Francisco Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro C. Magalhães & Christoph A. Vanberg, 2013. "Experimental evidence that quorum rules discourage turnout and promote election boycotts," NIPE Working Papers 14/2013, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
    5. Fink, Alexander, 2012. "The effects of party campaign spending under proportional representation: Evidence from Germany," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 574-592.
    6. Leonardo Bursztyn & Davide Cantoni & Patricia Funk & Noam Yuchtman, 2017. "Polls, the Press, and Political Participation: The Effects of Anticipated Election Closeness on Voter Turnout," NBER Working Papers 23490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-424, June.
    8. Fosco, Constanza & Laruelle, Annick & Sánchez, Angel, 2009. "Turnout Intention and Social Networks," IKERLANAK 2009-34, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
    9. Joseph McMurray, 2008. "Information and Voting: the Wisdom of the Experts versus the Wisdom of the Masses," Wallis Working Papers WP59, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
    10. Alan Gerber & Mitchell Hoffman & John Morgan & Collin Raymond, 2017. "One in a Million: Field Experiments on Perceived Closeness of the Election and Voter Turnout," NBER Working Papers 23071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Mirabelle Muûls & Dimitra Petropoulou, 2013. "A swing state theory of trade protection in the Electoral College," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 46(2), pages 705-724, May.
    12. Peter Calcagno & Christopher Westley, 2008. "An institutional analysis of voter turnout: the role of primary type and the expressive and instrumental voting hypotheses," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 94-110, June.
    13. Gebhard Kirchgässner & Tobias Schulz, 2005. "Expected Closeness or Mobilisation: Why Do Voters Go to the Polls? Empirical Results for Switzerland, 1981 – 1999," CESifo Working Paper Series 1387, CESifo Group Munich.
    14. Eisinga, R. & Franses, Ph.H.B.F. & van Dijk, D.J.C., 1997. "Timing of Vote Decision in First and Second Order Dutch Elections 1978-1995: Evidence from Artificial Neural Networks," Econometric Institute Research Papers EI 9733/A, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), Econometric Institute.
    15. Adanu, Kwami & Hoehn, John P. & Norris, Patricia & Iglesias, Emma, 2012. "Voter decisions on eminent domain and police power reforms," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 187-194.
    16. Christine Fauvelle-Aymar & Abel François, 2006. "The impact of closeness on turnout: An empirical relation based on a study of a two-round ballot," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 127(3), pages 461-483, June.
    17. Yu Yu & Nita Umashankar & Vithala R. Rao, 2016. "Choosing the right target: Relative preferences for resource similarity and complementarity in acquisition choice," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(8), pages 1808-1825, August.
    18. 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.
    19. João Amaro de Matos & Pedro Barros, 2004. "Social Norms and the Paradox of Elections’ Turnout," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 121(1), pages 239-255, October.
    20. Gary Roseman & E. Stephenson, 2005. "The Effect of Voting Technology on Voter Turnout: Do Computers Scare the Elderly?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(1), pages 39-47, April.
    21. Fosco, Constanza & Laruelle, Annick & Sánchez, Angel, 2009. "Turnout Intention and Social Networks," IKERLANAK 2009-34, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
    22. Luís Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro C. Magalhães & Christoph A. Vanberg, 2016. "Experimental evidence that quorum rules discourage turnout and promote election boycotts," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(4), pages 886-909, December.

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    Keywords

    elections ; economic models;

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