Polls, the Press, and Political Participation: The Effects of Anticipated Election Closeness on Voter Turnout

48 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2017

See all articles by Leonardo Bursztyn

Leonardo Bursztyn

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management

Davide Cantoni

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics

Patricia Funk

University of Lugano

Noam Yuchtman

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Date Written: June 2017

Abstract

We exploit naturally occurring variation in the existence, closeness, and dissemination of pre-election polls to identify a causal effect of anticipated election closeness on voter turnout in Swiss referenda. Closer elections are associated with greater turnout only when polls exist. Examining within-election variation in newspaper reporting on polls across cantons, we find that close polls increase turnout significantly more where newspapers report on them most. This holds examining only "incidental" exposure to coverage by periodicals whose largest audience is elsewhere. The introduction of polls had larger effects in politically unrepresentative municipalities, where locally available information differs most from national polls.

Keywords: media, polls, Voter turnout

JEL Classification: D72, P16

Suggested Citation

Bursztyn, Leonardo and Cantoni, Davide and Funk, Patricia and Yuchtman, Noam, Polls, the Press, and Political Participation: The Effects of Anticipated Election Closeness on Voter Turnout (June 2017). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP12088. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2988846

Leonardo Bursztyn (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

Davide Cantoni

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Ludwigstrasse 28
Munich, D-80539
Germany

Patricia Funk

University of Lugano ( email )

Via Giuseppe Buffi 13
Lugano, Ticino 6900
Switzerland

Noam Yuchtman

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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