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Information Asymmetries and Simultaneous versus Sequential Voting

  • Rebecca B. Morton

    (University of Iowa)

  • Kenneth C. Williams

    (Michigan State University)

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    We theoretically and empirically compare sequential with simultaneous voting elections and the impact of the representativeness of early voters in sequential voting on the electoral outcome when voters have asymmetric information about the candidates. We use a simple three- candidate model where one candidate is a Condorcet winner, i.e. would defeat either opponent in a pairwise competition. However, under complete information multiple equilibria exist in which any of the three candidates could win election. Theoretically, in simultaneous voting elections with voters asymmetrically informed about the candidates, the candidate better known is more likely to win, regardless of whether this candidate is the Condorcet winner or not. In sequential voting, early voters should vote "informatively" and multiple equilibria exist. Using laboratory elections, we investigate our theoretical predictions and consider which of the equilibrium outcomes are more likely. Better known candidates are more likely to win in simultaneous voting, regardless of candidate type. Early voters in sequential voting elections vote informatively and, when given detail on voting by early voters, later voters appear to infer information about the candidates from early voting. The Condorcet winner is more likely to win in sequential voting elections than in simultaneous voting elections when that candidate is less well known. If early voters are not representative of the voting population, there is evidence that their most preferred candidate is more likely to win if they are able to identity their first preference. However, non-representativeness of early voters increases the likelihood that the Condorcet winner will win in sequential voting.

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    Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 9801001.

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    Length: 65 pages
    Date of creation: 04 Jan 1998
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:9801001
    Note: Type of Document - Microsoft Word; prepared on IBM PC; to print on HP; pages: 65 ; figures: none
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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    1. Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 2010. "A theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom and cultural change as informational Cascades," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1193, David K. Levine.
    2. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
    3. Eddie Dekel & Michele Piccione, 1997. "On the Equivalence of Simultaneous and Sequential Binary Elections," Discussion Papers 1206, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    4. Sloth Birgitte, 1993. "The Theory of Voting and Equilibria in Noncooperative Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 152-169, January.
    5. 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.
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