Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1971312
 


 



Why Bother Asking? The Limited Value of Self-Reported Vote Intention


Todd Rogers


Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Masa Aida


Greenberg Quinlan Rosner

December 22, 2011

HKS Working Paper No. RWP12-001

Abstract:     
How accurate are people when predicting whether they will vote? These self-predictions are used by political scientists to proxy for political motivation, and by public opinion researcher to predict election outcomes. Phone surveys from three elections, including one survey experiment, are analyzed to compare respondents’ pre-election vote intention with their actual voting behavior using administrative records (N=29,403). Unsurprisingly, many who predict that they will vote actually do not vote. More surprisingly, many who predict that they will not vote actually do vote (29% to 56%). Records of past voting behavior predicts turnout substantially better than self-prediction. Self-prediction inaccuracy is not caused by lack of cognitive salience of past voting, or by inability to recall past voting. Moreover, self-reported recall of turnout in one past election predicts future turnout just as well as self-prediction. We discuss implications for political science research, behavioral prediction, election administration policy, and public opinion.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: voting, public opinion, elections, behavioral prediction, electoral politics

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Date posted: March 13, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Rogers, Todd and Aida, Masa, Why Bother Asking? The Limited Value of Self-Reported Vote Intention (December 22, 2011). HKS Working Paper No. RWP12-001. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1971312 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1971312

Contact Information

Todd Rogers (Contact Author)
Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Masa Aida
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner ( email )
10 G Street, NE
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20002
United States
202-478-8300 (Phone)
202-478-8301 (Fax)
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