David and Goliath in the Poll Booth: Group Size, Voting Power and Voter Turnout

24 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2015

See all articles by Peter Boenisch

Peter Boenisch

Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg

Benny Geys

BI Norwegian Business School; Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) - Applied Economics Department

Claus Michelsen

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW)

Date Written: June 2015

Abstract

This article analyses how the presence of a dominant group of voters within the electorate affects voter turnout. Theoretically, we argue that both the absolute size and the relative power of a dominant group influence voters' decision-making process. The former effect derives from increased free-riding incentives and reduced social pressure to vote within a larger dominant group, while the latter effect is driven by instrumental and expressive responses-in both the dominant and dominated groups-to electoral competition between groups. Our empirical analysis of a large cross-section of German municipalities confirms this joint importance of a dominant group's absolute and relative size for voter turnout. Such effects should thus be taken into account when redesigning electoral jurisdictions through, for instance, municipal mergers or gerrymandering.

Keywords: Voter turnout, power, group size, merger, gerrymandering

JEL Classification: D70, D72, H11, H40

Suggested Citation

Boenisch, Peter and Geys, Benny and Michelsen, Claus, David and Goliath in the Poll Booth: Group Size, Voting Power and Voter Turnout (June 2015). DIW Berlin Discussion Paper No. 1491. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2622381 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2622381

Peter Boenisch

Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg ( email )

Emil-Abderhalden-Str. 7
Halle an der Saale
06099 Halle (Saale), DE Sachsen-Anhalt 06099
Germany

Benny Geys

BI Norwegian Business School ( email )

Nydalsveien 37
Oslo, 0442
Norway

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) - Applied Economics Department ( email )

Pleinlaan 2
1040 Etterbeek
Brussel, CA 1040
Belgium

Claus Michelsen (Contact Author)

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) ( email )

Mohrenstra├če 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

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