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A Theory of Voting Equilibria

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  • Roger B. Myerson
  • Robert J. Weber

Abstract

A voting equilibrium arises when the voters in an electorate, acting in accordance with both their preferences for the candidates and their perceptions of the relative chances of various pairs of candidates being in contention for victory, generate an election result that justifies their perceptions. Voting equilibria always exist, and the set of equilibria can vary substantially with the choice of voting system. We compare equilibria under the plurality rule, approval voting, and the Borda system. We consider a candidate-positioning game and find that the plurality rule imposes little restriction on the position of the winning candidate in three-candidate races, while approval voting leads to a winner positioned at the median of the voter distribution. We contrast campaign activities intended to influence voter preferences with activities meant to influence only perceptions of candidate viability.
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Suggested Citation

  • Roger B. Myerson & Robert J. Weber, 1988. "A Theory of Voting Equilibria," Discussion Papers 782, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:782
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert Forsythe, 1990. "An Experimental Study of Voting Rules and Polls in Three-Way Elections," Discussion Papers 927, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    2. Emile Grunberg & Franco Modigliani, 1954. "The Predictability of Social Events," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62, pages 465-465.
    3. Brams, Steven J. & Fishburn, Peter C., 1978. "Approval Voting," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(3), pages 831-847, September.
    4. Smith, John H, 1973. "Aggregation of Preferences with Variable Electorate," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(6), pages 1027-1041, November.
    5. McKelvey, Richard D. & Ordeshook, Peter C., 1985. "Elections with limited information: A fulfilled expectations model using contemporaneous poll and endorsement data as information sources," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 55-85, June.
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