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What Makes Voters Turn Out: The Effects of Polls and Beliefs

Agranov, Marina and Goeree, Jacob K. and Romero, Julian and Yariv, Leeat (2014) What Makes Voters Turn Out: The Effects of Polls and Beliefs. Social Science Working Paper, 1368. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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We use laboratory experiments to test for one of the foundations of the rational voter paradigm { that voters respond to probabilities of being pivotal. We exploit a setup that entails stark theoretical effects of information concerning the preference distribution (as revealed through polls) on costly participation decisions. We find that voting propensity increases systematically with subjects' predictions of their preferred alternative's advantage. Consequently, pre-election polls do not exhibit the detrimental welfare effects that extant theoretical work predicts. They lead to more participation by the expected majority and generate more landslide elections.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemPublished Version
Goeree, Jacob K.0000-0001-9876-3425
Additional Information:January 2013. Updated December 29, 2014. We thank Guillaume Frechette, Salvatore Nunnari, and Tom Palfrey for useful suggestions. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the European Research Council (ERC Advanced Investigator Grant, ESEI-249433), the National Science Foundation (SES 0963583), and the Henry and Betty Moore Foundation.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Funding AgencyGrant Number
European Research Council (ERC)ESEI-249433
NSFSES 0963583
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Collective Choice, Polls, Strategic Voting
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Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
University of Zurich Department of Economics Working Paper Series67
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:1368
Classification Code:JEL classification numbers: C92, D02, D72
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160229-144052263
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:64861
Deposited By: Susan Vite
Deposited On:04 Mar 2016 22:12
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 09:41

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