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The Paradox of Voting and Candidate Competition: A General Equilibrium Analysis

Ledyard, John O. (1978) The Paradox of Voting and Candidate Competition: A General Equilibrium Analysis. Social Science Working Paper, 224. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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Conventional analysis of the decision of expected utility maximizing agents to vote has concluded that it is irrational to vote unless voters have a distorted view of their individual impact or place a direct value on the act of voting. On the other hand, mathematical analyses of the electoral process (see, e.g., Davis, Hinich, Ordeshook (1970)), have usually assumed that all voters vote. Each theory is incorrect in the sense that in actual elections turnout is neither zero nor 100%. In this paper we will argue that previous analyses of expected utility maximizing voters s topped too soon because of the partial equilibrium approach and that if each voter considers the simultaneous reactions of all voters in a "rational" manner, then depending on the location of the candidates' platforms, turnout will usually be positive but less than 100%. In particular we will derive a (probabilistic) vote supply function, given a distribution of voters and the choice of platforms of candidates, which has the property that, even with costs of voting, unless the candidates have identical platforms, the expected turnout is positive. The model and these results are presented in sections 1a and 1b.

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Additional Information:I wish to thank both the Fairchild Foundation (as a Fairchild Scholar at Caltech) and the National Science Foundation (Grant #SOC 76-20953 to the Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science at Northwestern University) for their support. My debt to John Ferejohn and Morris Fiorina, who tolerated my incursion into their domain with patience, help, and humor, will be obvious to any reader. A seminar at Caltech brought forth the expected boos, "what is that?", and help. I thank the participants. Finally, as expected, I alone remain responsible for any errors and misrepresentations which may be left. Ledyard, John O., “The Paradox of Voting and Candidate Competition: A General Equilibrium Analysis,” in Essays in Contemporary Fields of Economics, edited by G. Horwich and J. Quirk. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1982, pp. 57-80.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
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Northwestern UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Sherman Fairchild FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:224
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20171019-155736804
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:82528
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:20 Oct 2017 17:40
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:55

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