Turned Off or Turned Out? Campaign Advertising, Information, and Voting

45 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2008

See all articles by Daniel Houser

Daniel Houser

George Mason University - Department of Economics; Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Rebecca Morton

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Thomas Stratmann

George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy; George Mason University - Mercatus Center; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: July 25, 2008

Abstract

We present results from laboratory experimental elections in which voter information is endogenously provided by candidates and voting is voluntary. We also compare advertisements that are costless to voters with those that reduce voter payoffs. We find that informative advertisements increase voter participation and thus informative campaign advertising "turns out" voters. However, the effect of information is less than that found in previous experimental studies where information is exogenously provided by the experimenter. Furthermore, we find that when advertising by winning candidates reduces voter payoffs, informed voters are less likely to participate, thus are "turned off" rather than "turned out." Finally, we discover that candidates tend to overadvertise, and contrary to theoretical predictions, advertise significantly more when voting is voluntary than when it is compulsory.

Keywords: voter information, turnout, participation in elections, campaign finance, campaign expenditures

Suggested Citation

Houser, Daniel and Morton, Rebecca and Stratmann, Thomas, Turned Off or Turned Out? Campaign Advertising, Information, and Voting (July 25, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1181402 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1181402

Daniel Houser

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://mason.gmu.edu/~dhouser/

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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Rebecca Morton

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

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New York, NY 10003
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Thomas Stratmann (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy ( email )

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United States
703-993-2330 (Phone)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.mercatus.org/scholars/thomas-stratmann

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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