80 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2009 Last revised: 5 Nov 2013
Date Written: August 2013
We model two-candidate elections in which 1) voters are uncertain about candidates' attributes; and 2) candidates can inform voters of their attributes by sending advertisements. We compare political campaigns with truthful advertising to campaigns in which there is a small chance of deceptive advertising. Our model predicts that voters should vote in-line with an advertisement’s information. We test our model’s predictions using laboratory elections. We find, in the presence of an even small probability that an advertisement is deceptive, voters become substantially more likely to elect a “low-quality” candidate. We discuss implications of this for existing models of voting decisions.
Keywords: voter information, turnout, participation in elections, campaign finance, deceptive advertising
JEL Classification: C91, C92, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Houser, Daniel and Ludwig, Sandra and Stratmann, Thomas, Deception and Political Participation: Theory and Laboratory Evidence (August 2013). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 12-27. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1460940 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1460940