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The Real Swing Voter's Curse

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  • James A. Robinson
  • Ragnar Torvik

Abstract

A key idea in political economy is that policy is often tailored to voters who are not ideologically attached - swing voters. We show, however, that in political environments where political parties can use repression and violence to exclude voters from elections, they may optimally target the swing voters. This is because they anticipate that if they had to compete for the support of these voters, they would end up giving them a lot of policy favors. Hence in weakly institutionalized political environments swing voters are cursed rather than blessed. We illustrate the analysis with a discussion of recent political events in Zimbabwe.

Suggested Citation

  • James A. Robinson & Ragnar Torvik, 2009. "The Real Swing Voter's Curse," NBER Working Papers 14799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14799
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
    2. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-424, June.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The curse of the swing voter
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-03-26 19:31:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Radosław Piwowarski, 2015. "Swing voters distribution into the income groups in Poland in the years 2001-2011: Probabilistic voting model perspective," Ekonomia journal, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw, vol. 40.
    2. Iván Higuera Mendieta, 2017. "Control armado y comportamiento electoral: Un cuasi-experimento en el Caguán," Documentos de trabajo sobre Economía Regional y Urbana 256, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    3. Olivier Sterck, 2015. "Fighting for votes: theory and evidence on the causes of electoral violence," CSAE Working Paper Series 2015-19, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    4. Andrea Colombo & Olivia D'Aoust & Olivier Sterck, 2014. "From Rebellion to Electoral Violence. Evidence from Burundi," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2014-33, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    5. Wolitzky, Alexander, 2013. "Endogenous institutions and political extremism," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 86-100.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government

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