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Information Aggregation in Polls

John Morgan and Phillip C. Stocken

American Economic Review, 2008, vol. 98, issue 3, 864-96

Abstract: We study information transmission via polling. A policymaker polls constituents, who differ in their information and ideology, to determine policy. Full revelation is an equilibrium in a poll with a small sample, but not with a large one. In large polls, full information aggregation can arise in an equilibrium where constituents endogenously sort themselves into centrists, who respond truthfully, and extremists, who do not. We find polling statistics that ignore strategic behavior yield biased estimators and mischaracterize the poll's margin of error. We construct estimators that account for strategic behavior. Finally, we compare polls and elections.

JEL-codes: C42 D82 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2008
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.3.864
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