A Theory of Momentum in Sequential Voting

41 Pages Posted: 18 May 2006

See all articles by S. Nageeb Ali

S. Nageeb Ali

Stanford University - Department of Economics

Navin Kartik

Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics

Date Written: April 2006

Abstract

This paper develops a rational theory of momentum in elections with sequential voting. We analyze a two-candidate election in which some voters are uncertain about the realization of a state variable that can affect their preferences between the candidates. Voters receive private signals about the state and vote in an exogenously fixed sequence, observing the history of votes at each point. We show that there is a strict equilibrium with Posterior-Based Voting: each voter votes for the candidate she believes to be better at the time of casting her vote, taking into account the information revealed in prior votes. In this equilibrium, herding can occur on a candidate with positive probability, and occurs with probability approaching one in large voting games. Our results help understand and have implications for sequential voting mechanisms such as presidential primaries and roll-call voting.

Keywords: sequential voting, sincere voting, information aggregation, bandwagons, momentum, information cascades, herd behavior

JEL Classification: C7, D72

Suggested Citation

Ali, Syed N. and Kartik, Navin, A Theory of Momentum in Sequential Voting (April 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=902697 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.902697

Syed N. Ali

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Navin Kartik (Contact Author)

Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics ( email )

420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.Columbia.edu/~nk2339

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