The Swing Voter's Curse in the Laboratory

47 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2006

See all articles by Marco Battaglini

Marco Battaglini

Princeton University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Rebecca Morton

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Thomas R. Palfrey

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Date Written: January 2006

Abstract

This paper reports the first laboratory study of the swing voter's curse and provides insights on the larger theoretical and empirical literature on 'pivotal voter' models. Our experiment controls for different information levels of voters, as well as the size of the electorate, the distribution of preferences, and other theoretically relevant parameters. The design varies the share of partisan voters and the prior belief about a payoff relevant state of the world. Our results support the equilibrium predictions of the Feddersen-Pesendorfer model, and clearly reject the notion that voters in the laboratory use naïve decision-theoretic strategies. The voters act as if they are aware of the swing voter's curse and adjust their behaviour to compensate. While the compensation is not complete and there is some heterogeneity in individual behaviour, we find that aggregate outcomes, such as efficiency, turnout, and margin of victory, closely track the theoretical predictions.

Keywords: Swing voter's curse, voting behaviour, information aggregation

JEL Classification: D71, D72

Suggested Citation

Battaglini, Marco and Morton, Rebecca and Palfrey, Thomas R., The Swing Voter's Curse in the Laboratory (January 2006). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 5458, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=899365

Marco Battaglini (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Rebecca Morton

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

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Thomas R. Palfrey

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences ( email )

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