Are Voters Rational on the Margin?: A Spatial Analysis of Voter Turnout in U.S. Presidential Elections
19 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2014
Date Written: April 5, 2014
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
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