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Published July 25, 2017 | Published
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Communication Among Voters Benefits the Majority Party


How does communication among voters affect turnout? And who benefits from it? In a laboratory experiment in which subjects, divided into two competing parties, choose between costly voting and abstaining, we study three pre-play communication treatments: No Communication, a control; Public Communication, where all voters exchange public messages through computer chat; and Party Communication, where messages are also exchanged but only within one's own party. Our main finding is that communication always benefits the majority party by increasing its expected turnout margin and, hence, its expected margin of victory and probability of winning the election. Party communication increases overall turnout, while public communication increases turnout with a high voting cost but decreases it with a low voting cost. With communication, we find essentially no support for the standard Nash equilibrium predictions and limited consistency with correlated equilibrium.

Additional Information

We are grateful to the National Science Foundation (SES-1426560) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (SES-1158) for financial support. We are grateful to Michael McBride and the lab assistants (Blake Allison, Tyler Boston, and Alyssa Acre) at UC Irvine ESSL laboratory. We thank Tatiana Mayskaya for excellent research assistance. We thank Marina Agranov, Kim Border, Matthew Chao, Tatiana Coutto, Nehemia Geva, Kosuke Imai, John Ledyard, David K. Levine, Eugenia Nazrullaeva, Fabian Paetzel, Eugenio Proto, Molly Roberts, David Ronayne, Daniel Sgroi, Matthew Shum, Stefan Traub, and Leeat Yariv for insightful comments and discussions. We also thank seminar participants at Caltech, Princeton, Texas A&M, UCSD, UPenn, NRU-HSE, Warwick, Maastricht, U of Melbourne, UNSW, UTS, U Carlos III Madrid, and HSU Hamburg. This paper was previously circulated as \Voting with Communication: An Experimental Study of Correlated Equilibrium."

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