Welfare Reducing Polls
We study costly majority voting when voters rationally anticipate others have similar preferences. The correlation in preferences lowers expected turnout because votes have a positive externality on those who abstain. We study the effects of the public release of information (polls) on participation levels. Polls raise expected turnout but reduce expected welfare because they stimulate the “wrong” group to participate resulting in a “toss-up” election. Our novel results highlight the adverse effects of providing information about the electorate’s preferences and may explain why some countries bar opinion polls close to an election date.
KeywordsStrategic voting Costly participation Correlated preferences Polls Toss-up elections
JEL classification numbersC70 D72
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Baker L., Koestner R., Worren N.M., Losier G.F., Vallerand R.J. (1995). False consensus effects for the 1992 Canadian referendum. Can J Behav Sci 27(2):214–225Google Scholar
- Dawes R.M. (1990). The potential nonfalsity of the false consensus bias. In: Hogarth R.M. (eds) Insights in decision making: a tribute to Hillel J. Einhorn. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
- Foundation for information/ESOMAR: The freedom to publish opinion poll results. Mimeo (2003)Google Scholar
- Ghosal, S., Lockwood, B.: Costly voting and inefficient participation. Mimeo (2004)Google Scholar
- Krasa, S., Polborn, M.: Is mandatory voting better than voluntary voting? Mimeo (2005)Google Scholar
- Ledyard J.O. (1981). The paradox of voting and candidate competition: a general equilibrium analysis. In: Weiler T., Horwich G., Quirk J. (eds) Essays in contemporary fields of economics – in honor of Emanuel. Purdue University Press, West Lafayette IndianaGoogle Scholar
- Morwitz V.G., Pluzinsky C. (1996). Do polls reflect opinions or do opinions reflect polls? J Consum Res 23:53–67Google Scholar
- Myatt, D.P.: A new theory of strategic voting. Mimeo (2002)Google Scholar
- Ross L., Greene D., House P. (1977). The false consensus effect: an egocentric bias in social perception and attribution processes. J Pers Soc Psychol 13:279–301Google Scholar
- Taylor, C.R., Yildirim, H.: Public information and electoral bias. Mimeo (2005)Google Scholar