David and Goliath in the Poll Booth: Group Size, Voting Power and Voter Turnout
24 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2015
Date Written: June 2015
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
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