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Turned Off or Turned Out? Campaign Advertising,Information, and Voting

Author

Listed:
  • Daniel Houser

    () (Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science and Department of Economics, George Mason University)

  • Rebecca Morton

    ()

  • Thomas Stratmann

    () (Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science and Department of Economics, George Mason University)

Abstract

We present results from laboratory experimental elections in which voter information is endogenously provided by candidates and voting is voluntary. We also compare advertisements that are costless to voters with those that reduce voter payoffs. We fi?nd that informative advertisements increase voter participation and thus informative campaign advertising "turns out" voters. However, the effect of information is less than that found in previous experimental studies where information is exogenously provided by the experimenter. Furthermore, we find that when advertising by winning candidates reduces voter payoffs, informed voters are less likely to participate, thus are "turned off" rather than "turned out."Finally, we discover that candidates tend to over-advertise, and contrary to theoretical predictions, advertise significantly more when voting is voluntary than when it is compulsory.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Houser & Rebecca Morton & Thomas Stratmann, 2008. "Turned Off or Turned Out? Campaign Advertising,Information, and Voting," Working Papers 1005, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised Jul 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:gms:wpaper:1005
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:93:y:1999:i:02:p:381-398_21 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:95:y:2001:i:04:p:963-974_40 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Coupe, Tom & Noury, Abdul G., 2004. "Choosing not to choose: on the link between information and abstention," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 261-265, August.
    4. Daniel Houser & Thomas Stratmann, 2008. "Selling favors in the lab: experiments on campaign finance reform," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 136(1), pages 215-239, July.
    5. Richard J. Cebula, 2007. "Influences on the Voter Participation Rate," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 399-412, April.
    6. Stephen Coate, 2004. "Pareto-Improving Campaign Finance Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 628-655, June.
    7. David Dreyer Lassen, 2004. "The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," EPRU Working Paper Series 04-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    8. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972.
    9. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
    10. Marco Battaglini & Rebecca B. Morton & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2008. "Information Aggregation and Strategic Abstention in Large Laboratory Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 194-200, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ade, Florian & Freier, Ronny & Odendahl, Christian, 2014. "Incumbency effects in government and opposition: Evidence from Germany," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 117-134.
    2. Andersen, Jørgen Juel & Fiva, Jon H. & Natvik, Gisle James, 2014. "Voting when the stakes are high," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 157-166.
    3. Brandes, Leif & Franck, Egon, 2012. "Social preferences or personal career concerns? Field evidence on positive and negative reciprocity in the workplace," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 925-939.
    4. Emir Kamenica & Louisa Egan Brad, 2014. "Voters, dictators, and peons: expressive voting and pivotality," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(1), pages 159-176, April.
    5. Christopher Jeffords, 2014. "Preference-directed regulation when ethical environmental policy choices are formed with limited information," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 573-606, March.
    6. Omar Al-Ubaydli & Uri Gneezy & Min Sok Lee & John A. List, 2010. "Towards an understanding of the relative strengths of positive and negative reciprocity," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 5(7), pages 524-539, December.
    7. Thomas Stratmann, 2011. "Campaign Contributions – What Do They Buy and Should They be Capped?," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 9(1), pages 17-20, 05.
    8. Zohal Hessami, 2016. "How Do Voters React to Complex Choices in a Direct Democracy? Evidence from Switzerland," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(2), pages 263-293, May.
    9. Markussen, Thomas & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2017. "Choosing a public-spirited leader: An experimental investigation of political selection," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 204-218.
    10. Christian Bredemeier, 2014. "Imperfect information and the Meltzer-Richard hypothesis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(3), pages 561-576, June.
    11. 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.
    12. repec:eee:poleco:v:53:y:2018:i:c:p:109-119 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Kräkel, Matthias & Nieken, Petra & Przemeck, Judith, 2014. "Risk taking and investing in electoral competition," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 98-120.
    14. Daniel Kling & Thomas Stratmann, 2016. "The Efficacy of Political Advertising: A Voter Participation Field Experiment with Multiple Robo Calls and Controls for Selection Effects," CESifo Working Paper Series 6195, CESifo Group Munich.
    15. Freier, Ronny, 2015. "The mayor's advantage: Causal evidence on incumbency effects in German mayoral elections," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PA), pages 16-30.
    16. Stadelmann, David & Portmann, Marco & Eichenberger, Reiner, 2014. "The law of large districts: How district magnitude affects the quality of political representation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 128-140.
    17. repec:eee:poleco:v:53:y:2018:i:c:p:149-160 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Aimone, Jason A. & Butera, Luigi & Stratmann, Thomas, 2018. "Altruistic punishment in elections," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 149-160.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Voting; campaign finance; abstention; voter turnout; experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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