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The Rationality Uniformed Electorate: Some Experimental Evidence

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Collier, Kenneth; Ordeshook, Peter C.; Williams, Kenneth
Date: 1988
Agency: California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
Series: Social Science Working Papers, no. 668
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5831
Sector: Theory
Subject(s): voting
Abstract: "This essay reports on a series of twenty four election experiments in which voters are allowed to decide between voting retrospectively and purchasing contemporaneous information about the candidate challenging the incumbent. Each experiment consists of a series of election periods in which dummy candidates choose spatial positions which represent either their policy while in office or a promise about policy if elected. Subjects (voters) are told the value to them of the incumbent's policy, but they must decide, prior to voting, whether or not to purchase information about the value of the challenger's promise. In general, our data conform to reasonable expectations: voters purchase less information and rely more on retrospective knowledge when the candidates' strategies are stable, and their likelihood of purchasing information during periods of instability is tempered by the likelihood that their votes matter, by the reliability of the information available for purchase, and by the degree of instability as measured by changes in each voter's welfare."

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