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An Experimental Study of Voting Rules and Polls in Three- Way Elections

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  • Forsythe, R.

    () (University of Iowa)

  • Myerson, R.
  • Rietz, T.

    (University of Iowa)

  • Weber, R.

Abstract

This paper reports experiments designed to help resolve longstanding controversies about the comparison of voting rules for multi-candidate elections. By paying subjects conditionally on election outcomes, we create electorates with (publically) known preferences. Each electorate then votes, with or without pre-election polls, under one of three voting rules: plurality, approval and Borda. We find that Condorcet losers occasionally win regardless of the voting rule or presence of polls. Duverger's law (the predominance of two-candidates) appears to hold under plurality voting, but close three-way races often arise under approval voting and Borda rule. Voters do not generally cast votes that match their poll responses, but they do so more often under plurality voting. Polls predict outcomes better under plurality voting and may serve as equilibrium selection signals. Voters usually cast votes that are consistent with some strategic equilibrium. By the end of an election series, most votes are consistent with a single equilibrium, although that equilibrium varies by group and rule.
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Suggested Citation

  • Forsythe, R. & Myerson, R. & Rietz, T. & Weber, R., 1991. "An Experimental Study of Voting Rules and Polls in Three- Way Elections," Working Papers 91-04, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uia:iowaec:91-04
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Donald G. Saari, 1985. "The Optimal Ranking Method is the Borda Count," Discussion Papers 638, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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    Cited by:

    1. Giuseppe Attanasi & Luca CORAZZINI & Nikolaos GEORGANTZIS & Francesco PASSARELLI, 2009. "Risk Aversion, Over-Confidence and Private Information as determinants of Majority Thresholds," LERNA Working Papers 09.26.302, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
    2. 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.
    3. Julián Parada, 2011. "Voters´ Rationality Under Four Electoral Rules: A Simulation Based on the 2010 Colombian Presidential Elections," REVISTA DESARROLLO Y SOCIEDAD, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE, December.
    4. Thomas A. Rietz, 1993. "Strategic Behavior in Multi-Alternative Elections: A Review of Some Experimental Evidence," Discussion Papers 1026, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    5. Meffert, Michael F. & Gschwend, Thomas, 2007. "Strategic Voting under Proportional Representation and Coalition Governments: A Simulation and Laboratory Experiment," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 07-55, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.

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    Keywords

    elections ; economic models ; information;

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