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Pollsand Elections: Strategic Respondents and Turnout Implications

Christina Luxen ()
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Christina Luxen: Bonn Graduate School of Economics, University of Bonn

No 20, ECONtribute Discussion Papers Series from University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany

Abstract: This paper studies the effect of pre-election polls on the participation decision of citizens in a large, two-candidate election, and the resulting incentives for the poll participants. Citizens have private values and voting is costly and instrumental. The environment is ex ante symmetric and features aggregate uncertainty about the distribution ofpreferences. Citizens base their participation decision on their own preferences and on the information provided in the poll. If all participants answer the poll truthfully, the underdog effect implies that the supporters of the trailing candidate turnout at higher rates than the supporters of the leader of the poll. This effect yields incentives for the poll participants to misrepresent their preferences to encourage the voters who have the same preferences to turnout. If poll participants are strategic, however, there does not exist an equilibrium in which the poll conveys any information. Thus, in the limit, the majority candidate wins the election almost surely, regardless of voters' posterior beliefs.

Keywords: Costly voting; Polls; Aggregate Uncertainty; Underdog Effect (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D83 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 95 pages
Date: 2020-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-mic
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