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Do Citizens Vote Sincerely (If They Vote at All)? Theory and Evidence from U. S. National Elections

Author

Listed:
  • Arianna Degan

    () (Department of Economics, University of Quebec at Montreal)

  • Antonio Merlo

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

Understanding citizens’ electoral behavior (e.g., selective abstention and split ticket voting), represents a fundamental step in the analysis of democratic institutions. In this paper, we assess the extent to which sincere voting can explain observed patterns of participation and voting in U.S. national elections. We propose a unified model of turnout and voting in presidential and congressional elections with heterogeneous voters. We estimate the model using individual level data for eight presidential election years (1972-2000). Our main findings can be summarized as follows. First, a non-negligible fraction of the American electorate does not vote sincerely, and only a relatively small fraction of observed split-ticket voting can be explained by sincere voting. Second, there is a systematic, positive relationship between information and turnout. Third, the American electorate has become relatively more polarized over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Arianna Degan & Antonio Merlo, 2004. "Do Citizens Vote Sincerely (If They Vote at All)? Theory and Evidence from U. S. National Elections," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-014, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:04-014
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    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Merlo, 2005. "Whither Political Economy? Theories, Facts and Issues," PIER Working Paper Archive 05-033, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Dec 2005.
    2. Stephen Coate & Brian Knight, 2005. "Socially Optimal Districting," NBER Working Papers 11462, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Elections; turnout; selective abstention; split-ticket voting;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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