Behavioral Voters in Synchronized Elections: Evidence from India

102 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2020 Last revised: 26 Jun 2023

See all articles by Vimal Balasubramaniam

Vimal Balasubramaniam

Queen Mary University of London; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Apurav Yash Bhatiya

University of Birmingham - Department of Economics

Sabyasachi Das

Ashoka University; Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics

Date Written: June 26, 2023

Abstract

Voters in decentralized democracies vote in multiple elections across tiers, often on the same day. Rationality demands that voters follow separate decision-making processes across elections. Behavioral voters, however, may simplify decision-making using heuristics when faced with synchronized elections. We show that synchronized elections in India increase political parties’ salience among voters and increase straight-ticket voting with minimal effects on turnout, increasing the likelihood of the same political party winning across tiers. We provide suggestive evidence in favor of voters’ cognitive constraints as a likely mechanism and find less support for choice fatigue, coattail or other conventional mechanisms. A sequential election design in India can therefore facilitate more informed decision-making and potentially shape gains from decentralization.

Keywords: Synchronized elections, Party Salience, India, Election Design

JEL Classification: D02, D72, D91, H77.

Suggested Citation

Balasubramaniam, Vimal and Bhatiya, Apurav Yash and Das, Sabyasachi, Behavioral Voters in Synchronized Elections: Evidence from India (June 26, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3636183 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3636183

Vimal Balasubramaniam (Contact Author)

Queen Mary University of London ( email )

Mile End Road
London, London E1 4NS
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Apurav Yash Bhatiya

University of Birmingham - Department of Economics

Birmingham Business School
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Sabyasachi Das

Ashoka University ( email )

Rajiv Gandhi Education City, Plot #2,
Sonepat
Rai, Haryana 131029
India

HOME PAGE: http://dassabyasachi.wordpress.com/

Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics ( email )

BMCC Road
Pune, Maharashtra 411004
India

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