Behavioral Voters in Synchronized Elections: Evidence from India
102 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2020 Last revised: 26 Jun 2023
Date Written: June 26, 2023
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.
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