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The Swing Voter's Curse

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  • Timothy J. Feddersen
  • Wolfgang Pesendorfer

Abstract

The authors analyze two-candidate elections in which some voters are uncertain about the realization of a state variable that affects the utility of all voters. They demonstrate the existence of a swing voter's curse: less informed indifferent voters strictly prefer to abstain rather than vote for either candidate even when voting is costless. The swing voter's curse leads to the equilibrium result that a substantial fraction of the electorate will abstain even though all abstainers strictly prefer voting for one candidate over voting for another. Copyright 1996 by American Economic Association.
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Suggested Citation

  • Timothy J. Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1995. "The Swing Voter's Curse," Discussion Papers 1064, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1064
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Klevorick, Alvin K. & Rothschild, Michael & Winship, Christopher, 1984. "Information processing and jury decisionmaking," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 245-278, April.
    2. Riker, William H. & Ordeshook, Peter C., 1968. "A Theory of the Calculus of Voting," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 25-42, March.
    3. John Ledyard, 1984. "The pure theory of large two-candidate elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 7-41, January.
    4. Matsusaka, John G, 1993. "Election Closeness and Voter Turnout: Evidence from California Ballot Propositions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 76(4), pages 313-334, August.
    5. Thomas Palfrey & Howard Rosenthal, 1983. "A strategic calculus of voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 7-53, January.
    6. Lohmann, Susanne, 1993. "A Signaling Model of Informative and Manipulative Political Action," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 87(2), pages 319-333, June.
    7. Riker, William H. & Ordeshook, Peter C., 1968. "A Theory of the Calculus of Voting," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 25-42, March.
    8. Ferejohn, John A. & Fiorina, Morris P., 1974. "The Paradox of Not Voting: A Decision Theoretic Analysis," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 525-536, June.
    9. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
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