This paper studies the effects that the revelation of information on the electorate's preferences has on voters' turnout. The experimental data show that closeness in the division of preferences induces a significant increase in turnout. Moreover, for closely divided electorates (and only for these electorates) the provision of information significantly raises the participation of subjects supporting the slightly larger team relative to the smaller team. We show that the heterogeneous effect of information on the participation of subjects in different teams is driven by the subjects' (incorrect) beliefs of casting a pivotal vote. Simply put, subjects overestimate the probability of casting a pivotal vote when they belong to the team with a slight majority, and choose the strategy that maximizes their utility based on their inflated probability assessment. Empirical evidence on gubernatorial elections in the U.S. between 1990 and 2005 is consistent with our main experimental result. Namely, we observe that the difference in the actual vote tally between the party leading according to the polls and the other party is larger than the one predicted by the polls only in closely divided electorates. We provide a behavioral model that explains the main findings of our experimental and empirical analyses.
This study investigates the effect of candidates’ expenditure on elections’ results focusing on run-off elections’ data. Our analysis, based on all run-off municipal elections in Israel between 1993 and 2008, shows that candidates’ share of the vote is not substantially affected by their campaign spending. This outcome contradicts recent results showing that, in a developing country where voting is compulsory, campaign expenditures have a significant effect on vote shares. Yet, it is in line with the evidence of earlier studies based on developed countries showing that the effect of campaign spending is limited. This leads us to suggest that campaign spending may be effective in developing countries with consolidating democracies because compulsory voting forces the relative poor population to turn out and vote, and this population is relatively more impressionable by campaign spending on media advertisements.
Conventional wisdom suggests that a global increase in monetary rewards should induce agents to exert higher effort. In this paper we demonstrate that this may not hold in team settings. In the context of sequential team production with positive externalities between agents, incentive reversal might occur, i.e., an increase in monetary rewards (either because bonuses increase or effort costs decrease) may induce agents that are fully rational, self-centered money maximizers to exert lower effort in the completion of a joint task. Incentive reversal happens when increasing one agent’s individual rewards alters her best-response function and, as a result, removes other agents’ incentives to exert effort as their contributions are no longer required to incentivize the first agent. Herein we discuss this seemingly paradoxical phenomenon and report on two experiments that provide supportive evidence.
This paper presents an experimental study of the effects of polls on voters’ welfare. The analysis shows that polls have a different effect on closely divided and lopsided divided electorates. The data show that in closely divided electorates (and only for these electorates) the provision of information on the voters’ distribution of preferences significantly raises the participation of subjects supporting the slightly larger team relative to the smaller team. This causes a substantial increase on the frequency of electoral victories of the larger team. As a consequence, we observe a steep decrease in the welfare of the members of the smaller team because they vote more often and yet they loose the elections more frequently. Polls are detrimental to aggregate welfare in closely divided electorates because the decrease in the payoffs of the minority is stronger than the increase in the payoffs of the majority. In lopsided divided electorates polls don’t have a significant different effect on the voters’ turnout conditional on their team size. We do observe an increase on the frequency of electoral victories of the larger team after the provision of information, but this is in part due to smaller teams’ members voting less frequently and saving the participation costs. As a consequence, while polls have a negative effect on the relative payoffs of the minority for these electorates as well, they have a positive effect on total welfare.