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Information Asymmetries and Simultaneous versus Sequential Voting

Rebecca Morton () and Kenneth C. Williams
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Kenneth C. Williams: Michigan State University

Public Economics from University Library of Munich, Germany

Abstract: We theoretically and empirically compare sequential with simultaneous voting elections and the impact of the representativeness of early voters in sequential voting on the electoral outcome when voters have asymmetric information about the candidates. We use a simple three- candidate model where one candidate is a Condorcet winner, i.e. would defeat either opponent in a pairwise competition. However, under complete information multiple equilibria exist in which any of the three candidates could win election. Theoretically, in simultaneous voting elections with voters asymmetrically informed about the candidates, the candidate better known is more likely to win, regardless of whether this candidate is the Condorcet winner or not. In sequential voting, early voters should vote "informatively" and multiple equilibria exist. Using laboratory elections, we investigate our theoretical predictions and consider which of the equilibrium outcomes are more likely. Better known candidates are more likely to win in simultaneous voting, regardless of candidate type. Early voters in sequential voting elections vote informatively and, when given detail on voting by early voters, later voters appear to infer information about the candidates from early voting. The Condorcet winner is more likely to win in sequential voting elections than in simultaneous voting elections when that candidate is less well known. If early voters are not representative of the voting population, there is evidence that their most preferred candidate is more likely to win if they are able to identity their first preference. However, non-representativeness of early voters increases the likelihood that the Condorcet winner will win in sequential voting.

Keywords: voting games; sequential voting; experiments; presidential primaries (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C7 D8 D7 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1998-01-04
Note: Type of Document - Microsoft Word; prepared on IBM PC; to print on HP; pages: 65 ; figures: none
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Journal Article: Information Asymmetries and Simultaneous versus Sequential Voting (1999) Downloads
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