DP11463 The Marginal Voter's Curse

Author(s): Helios Herrera, Aniol Llorente-Saguer, Joseph C. McMurray
Publication Date: August 2016
Keyword(s): Experiment, information aggregation, Turnout, Underdog effect
JEL(s): C72, C92, D70
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11463

This paper proposes a rational model of voter participation by generalizing a common-value model of costless voting to include not just pivotal voting but also marginal voting incentives. A new strategic incentive for abstention arises in that case, to avoid the marginal voter's curse of pushing the policy outcome in the wrong direction. The marginal voter's curse presents a larger disincentive for voting than the swing voter's curse. Moreover, marginal motivations are shown to dominate pivotal motivations in large elections. Model predictions are confirmed in a laboratory experiment and applied in a comparative analysis of electoral rules.