Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

On Public Opinion Polls and Voters' Turnout

47 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2006  

Esteban F. Klor

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Eyal Winter

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2006

Abstract

This paper studies the effects that the revelation of information on the electorate's preferences has on voters' turnout decisions. The experimental data show that closeness in the division of preferences induces a significant increase in turnout. Moreover, for closely divided electorates (and only for these electorates) the provision of information significantly raises the participation of subjects supporting the slightly larger team relative to the smaller team. We show that the heterogeneous effect of information on the participation of subjects in different teams is driven by the subjects' (incorrect) beliefs of casting a pivotal vote. Simply put, subjects overestimate the probability of casting a pivotal vote when they belong to the team with a slight majority, and choose the strategy that maximizes their utility based on their inflated probability assessment. Empirical evidence on gubernatorial elections in the U.S. between 1990 and 2005 is consistent with our main experimental result. Namely, we observe that the difference in the actual vote tally between the party leading according to the polls and the other party is larger than the one predicted by the polls only in closely divided electorates. We provide a behavioral model that explains the main findings of our experimental and empirical analyses.

Keywords: Voter Turnout, Public Opinion Polls, Experimental Economics

JEL Classification: C72, C92, D72, H41

Suggested Citation

Klor, Esteban F. and Winter, Eyal, On Public Opinion Polls and Voters' Turnout (September 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=895946 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.895946

Esteban F. Klor (Contact Author)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel
+972 2 588 3143 (Phone)
+972 2 581 6071 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://economics.huji.ac.il/facultye/klor/klor.htm

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

Eyal Winter

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel
+972 2 658 4154 (Phone)
+972 2 651 3681 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ma.huji.ac.il/%7Emseyal/

Paper statistics

Downloads
136
Rank
161,441
Abstract Views
852