Too Much of a Good Thing? Large Choice Sets, Parties, and Representation in Multimember Districts

27 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 1 Sep 2011

See all articles by Saul Cunow

Saul Cunow

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

This paper addresses a basic set of questions about the ability of voters to make satisfactory choices in multimember districts. Increasing district magnitude expands voters' choice sets and increases the probability that one of the candidates in a voter's district will be a good match for him or her. On the other hand, increasing the number of candidates in a district can negatively affect voter performance by making it more difficult for voters to identify a good representative. This paper tests for the impact of district magnitude on voter performance in multimember districts. Using data from a survey experiment conducted in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I test for a relationship between the number of candidates competing in a district and the ability and willingness of voters to select candidates. I also test for the ability of parties to facilitate vote choice in challenging electoral environments. I find evidence of a positive relationship between the size of voters' choice sets and abstention rates. I also find that the presence of party labels does not reduce the probability of abstention. This finding provides evidence of some of the cognitive costs to voters that are inherent to higher magnitude districts and a tradeoff between the representativeness of the pool of candidates and the ability of voters to make choices.

Keywords: district magnitude, abstention, turnout, electoral rules, Brazil, political parties, vote choice

Suggested Citation

Cunow, Saul, Too Much of a Good Thing? Large Choice Sets, Parties, and Representation in Multimember Districts (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1901679

Saul Cunow (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
25
Abstract Views
378
PlumX Metrics