An experimental study of voting rules and polls in three-candidate elections

Robert Forsythe*, Thomas Rietz, Roger Myerson, Robert Weber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

77 Scopus citations

Abstract

We report the results of elections conducted in a laboratory setting, modelled on a three-candidate example due to Borda. By paying subjects conditionally on election outcomes, we create electorates with (publicly) known preferences. We compare the results of experiments with and without non-binding pre-election polls under plurality rule, approval voting, and Borda rule. We also refer to a theory of voting "equilibria," which makes sharp predictions concerning individual voter behavior and election outcomes. We find that Condorcet losers occasionally win regardless of the voting rule or presence of polls. Duverger's law (which asserts the predominance of two candidates) appears to hold under plurality rule, but close three-way races often arise under approval voting and Borda rule. Voters appear to poll and vote strategically. In elections, voters usually cast votes that are consistent with some strategic equilibrium. By the end of an election series, most votes are consistent with a single equilibrium, although that equilibrium varies by experimental group and voting rule.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-383
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Game Theory
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty

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