The Marginal Voter's Curse

58 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2016

See all articles by Helios Herrera

Helios Herrera

University of Warwick

Aniol Llorente-Saguer

Queen Mary University of London

Joseph McMurray

Brigham Young University

Date Written: August 2016


This paper proposes a rational model of voter participation by generalizing a common-value model of costless voting to include not just pivotal voting but also marginal voting incentives. A new strategic incentive for abstention arises in that case, to avoid the marginal voter's curse of pushing the policy outcome in the wrong direction. The marginal voter's curse presents a larger disincentive for voting than the swing voter's curse. Moreover, marginal motivations are shown to dominate pivotal motivations in large elections. Model predictions are confirmed in a laboratory experiment and applied in a comparative analysis of electoral rules.

Keywords: Experiment, information aggregation, Turnout, Underdog effect

JEL Classification: C72, C92, D70

Suggested Citation

Herrera, Helios and Llorente-Saguer, Aniol and McMurray, Joseph, The Marginal Voter's Curse (August 2016). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11463, Available at SSRN:

Helios Herrera (Contact Author)

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Aniol Llorente-Saguer

Queen Mary University of London ( email )

Lincoln's Inn Fields
Mile End Rd.
London, E1 4NS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://

Joseph McMurray

Brigham Young University ( email )

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