Are Voters Rational on the Margin?: A Spatial Analysis of Voter Turnout in U.S. Presidential Elections

19 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2014

See all articles by Adam J. Hoffer

Adam J. Hoffer

University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

Date Written: April 5, 2014

Abstract

This study examines voter turnout in U.S. presidential elections from 1960-2008. Specifically, this study contributes to the literature by using a panel spatial econometric model to investigate whether, on the margin, voters behave rationally (increased voter turnout) when the probability of their vote being decisive is greater. The results show that voter turnout is greater when the margin of victory is small, when individual votes have a greater weight in the election (smaller ratio of electoral votes to number of voters), and when states switched away from a winner-take-all system to a congressional district system of allocating their electoral votes.

Keywords: voter turnout, spatial panel model, electoral vote density, district method, rational voter model

JEL Classification: D7, C21, R28

Suggested Citation

Hoffer, Adam J., Are Voters Rational on the Margin?: A Spatial Analysis of Voter Turnout in U.S. Presidential Elections (April 5, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2420810 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2420810

Adam J. Hoffer (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - La Crosse ( email )

1725 State Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
United States

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