Communication Among Voters Benefits the Majority Party

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How does communication among voters affect turnout? And who benefits from it? In a laboratory experiment in which subjects, divided into two competing parties, choose between costly voting and abstaining, we study three pre-play communication treatments: No Communication, a control; Public Communication, where all voters exchange public messages through computer chat; and Party Communication, where messages are also exchanged but only within one's own party. Our main finding is that communication always beenfits ts the majority party by increasing its expected turnout margin and, hence, its expected margin of victory and probability of winning the election. Party communication increases overall turnout, while public communication increases turnout with a high voting cost but decreases it with a low voting cost. With communication, we find essentially no support for the standard Nash equilibrium predictions and limited consistency with correlated equilibrium.

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voter turnout, pre-play communication, lab experiment, correlated equilibrium