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A Behavioral Theory of Elections$
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Jonathan Bendor, Daniel Diermeier, David A. Siegel, and Michael M. Ting

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691135076

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691135076.001.0001

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Turnout

Turnout

Chapter:
(p.80) Chapter Four Turnout
Source:
A Behavioral Theory of Elections
Author(s):

Jonathan Bendor

Daniel Diermeier

David A. Siegel

Michael M. Ting

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691135076.003.0004

This chapter focuses on voter participation, perhaps the most well-known anomaly for rational choice theory. The problem goes like this: in large electorates, the chance that any single voter will be pivotal is very small. Consequently, the cost of voting will outweigh the expected gains from turning out and few citizens will vote. This prediction is not consistent with some of the most easily observed facts about elections. The chapter introduces a basic model of electoral participation that focuses on voters’ turnout decisions under fixed candidate platforms. Contrary to the “paradox of turnout” raised by game-theoretic models of turnout, the model consistently generates realistically high levels of turnout. It also produces comparative statics, including those for voting cost, population size, and faction size, that are intuitive and empirically supported.

Keywords:   voter participation, rational choice theory, election voting, elections, voters, voter turnout, platforms, population size, faction size

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