Voter Turnout and Strategic Voting: Rational Calculus or Group Identity?

Research question/goal: 

For a long time, research on strategic voting has been confronted with two problems: empirically observed lower rates of strategic voting than theoretically predicted and ignorance of turnout. This project suggested a solution to these problems by integrating both decision processes in a game-theoretical model without common knowledge. A further key assumption of the model is a symmetric strategy profile. The term “symmetric” refers to the case that if any member of a given group uses a strategy then every other member of that group uses the same strategy. While this symmetric strategy enables equilibria with non-zero turnout as well as strategic voting, it also implies a kind of group identity. This view of group identity provides alternative explanations for both empirical puzzles above. That is, voters as group members are mobilized through selective incentives and they cast their ballots less strategically due to their group identity. The difference in implications between both explanations is apparent in terms of strategic voting. While a symmetric strategy facilitates strategic voting, group identity suppresses the incentive to deviate from one’s own preference. To differentiate implications of group mobilization and symmetric strategy equilibria more distinctively, this project demonstrated that simulation techniques can be applied. Furthermore, this project also developed an experimental design which enables to test the implications drawn from the theoretical model.

Fact sheet

2008 to 2010
Data Sources: 
Experimental data, simulation results
Geographic Space: