Sequential or Simultaneous Elections? A Welfare Analysis

37 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2015

See all articles by Patrick Hummel

Patrick Hummel

Google Inc.

Brian G. Knight

Brown University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2015

Abstract

Should all voters vote on the same day or should elections be staggered? Using a model of voting and social learning, we illustrate that sequential elections place too much weight on early states but also provide late voters with valuable information. Simultaneous elections equally weigh states but place too much weight on voter priors, providing an inappropriate advantage to front‐runners. Simultaneous elections are thus preferred if the front‐runner advantage is small, but sequential elections are preferred if the advantage is large. Our quantitative welfare analysis of presidential primaries suggests that simultaneous systems slightly outperform sequential systems.

Suggested Citation

Hummel, Patrick and Knight, Brian G., Sequential or Simultaneous Elections? A Welfare Analysis (August 2015). International Economic Review, Vol. 56, Issue 3, pp. 851-887, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2638129 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/iere.12124

Patrick Hummel (Contact Author)

Google Inc. ( email )

1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Second Floor
Mountain View, CA 94043
United States

Brian G. Knight

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

64 Waterman Street
Providence, RI 02912
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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