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Voter Turnout. Overview. Recap the “Paradox” of Voting Incentives and Voter Turnout Voter Mobilization. The Paradox of Voting. Given standard assumptions on Expected Utility , voting is rarely a rational action.

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## Voter Turnout

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**Overview**• Recap the “Paradox” of Voting • Incentives and Voter Turnout • Voter Mobilization**The Paradox of Voting**• Given standard assumptions on Expected Utility, voting is rarely a rational action. • For any individual, x, voting is rational if and only if x’s vote will either break a tie leading to her preferred candidate’s winning or creating a tie so her preferred candidate does not lose • As the pool of potential voters increases, the probablility of either of these situations decreases dramatically**Paradox of Voting**• We formalized this insight this way: ΔP * B > c ΔP = the change my vote makes in the prospects of victory for my prefered candidate B = the difference in the benefits I receive when my preferred candidate wins or loses c = costs of voting back**Paradox of Voting**• We ended class by noting that people do in fact vote, so either there are millions of irrational people out there, or we need to refine the model • That is, there must be some extra benefit to voting such that: ΔP * B + D > c D = extra consumption benefits of voting not connected to the result of the vote**Pardox of Voting**• And we further noted, that that explanation is not terribly helpful until or unless we can provide some content for D. • That is, we can’t simply say people vote because they like to vote. • We need to uncover why they like to vote even when the prospects of making a difference are slim to zero**Incentives and Voter Turnout**• One possible understanding of D is that we omitted to include the group benefits of voting • That is, if my vote helps advance the interests of a group that I support, then maybe I should vote**Incentives and Voter Turnout**• Suppose we have two members of group, Bill and Hillary, and the group supports a particular candidate (e.g, Obama over McCain) • Further suppose that the preferred candidate needs the group’s support in order to win**Incentives and Voter Turnout**• Further suppose the following conditions: • Assume the group’s preferred candidate, Obama, will lose by a single vote if neither of our two voters votes • That means that if both vote, then Obama wins and if one votes it’s a tie**Incentives and Voter Turnout**• Drawing on the Expected Utility idea we discussed earlier, we can put some numbers on the various scenarios: • If Obama wins, each will receive 100 utils • If McCain wins, each will recieve 25 utils • The utility difference (the B term above) would then be 100 - 25 = 75 • If it’s a tie, then they would expect to get 100 util half the time, and 25 the other half, or 100 (.5) + 25 (.5) = 62.5 utils**Incentives and Voter Turnout**• But remember, we need to include the costs of voting, c, which we’ll set at 50 utils • We can now contstruct a payoff matrix to help us determine what Bill and Hillary should do:**Incentives and Voter Turnout**Hillary’s Choices Don’t Vote Vote for Obama Vote for Obama 50, 50 12.5, 62.5 Bill’s Choices 62.5, 12.5 25, 25 Don’t Vote**Note that this is a classic prisoners’ dilemma**Neither Bill nor Hillary has incentive to vote The two will have difficulty acting collectively to elect Obama Incentives and Voter Turnout**Incentives and Voter Turnout**• Even though as a group they have the chance to influence the election to their preferred outcome (Obama), each individual voter has strong incentive to free ride on the actions of others • Upshot would be McCain elected.**Incentives and Voter Turnout**• Which means in order to get voters to vote we need to transform the payoff matrix so that we are no longer in the prisoners’ dilemma • We need to provide other incentives for people to vote beyond the possibility of affecting the outcome**Mobilization**• One way is to provide private selective incentives (PSI) • PSI is an extra benefit, privately defined, that is received by the individual voter • For instance, suppose the local organizers provide a free turkey to Bill and Hillary if they vote**Mobilization**• Assume that the turkey is worth 25 utils to each, then the new payoff for Bill and Hillary would look like**Hillary’s Choices**75, 75 37.5, 62.5 Bill’s Choices 62.5, 37.5 25, 25**Note that in this case, the Nash equilibrium is for both**Bill and Hillary to vote • So, is PSI the means to achieve higher voter turnout?**Mobilization**• Not really, since we need to be wary of bribery and vote selling • PSI are legal only if the goods in question are available independent or regardless of the vote • And if that’s the case, we’re right back in the prisoner’s dilemma situation • What to do?**Mobilization**• Social Selective Incentives (SSI) defined as the utility that Bill and Hillary receive from acting together as a group in a social situation**Hillary’s Choices**75, 75 12.5, 62.5 Bill’s Choices 62.5, 12.5 50, 50**Mobilization**• Note that this is not a prisoners’ dilemma, but it is different from the last game we had • Here, we have not one but two Nash equilibria (both vote or neither vote) • The issue here, then, is to coordinate the group of voters on the voting equilibrium rather than the nonvoting one**Mobilization**• Factors that contribute: family and peer groups • “Purposive” Benefits • Incentives that identify the benefits to the individual of the benefits of the group • That is,individuals come to equate the group benefits with their individual benefits**Mobilization**• Formalizing this dynamic we get: ∆Pg * Bg > cg Where: ∆P = the effect of mobilizing groups of voters on the election outcome B = the difference in group benefits if the preferred candidate wins c = is the cost to the group of mobilization**Mobilization**• Note that, for the group, the effect of mobilizing on the election can be as large as the benefits can be • That means benefits may outweigh the costs of mobilizing**Mobilization**• Notice, too, that as the costs of voting for individuals increases, turnout decreases (mobilization becomes more difficult as costs rise) • Likewise, if voters are mobilized by groups whose preferences are the same as theirs, we find a positive relationship between turnout and both the investments of voting and the probability that an election is close**Mobilization**• But what happens if the group mobilizing voters and the voter’s investment-movitated choice differ? • We have 2 types of mobilization forces: • mobilization of benefit seeking groups • mobilization of officer seeking groups**Mobilization**• The first (benefit seeking groups) use the ability to mobilize its memberships to deliver votes for benefit seeking groups • examples: NOW, Focus on the Family, labor organizations, NAACP, etc. • Expectation is that this electoral help will translate into policies favored by the group • Mobilization based on selective incentives of group benefits.**Mobilization**• Office seeking groups mobilize in voters committed to the idea of electing members of the group and act accordingly • examples: political parties**Mobilization**• Note as Morton points out: “If voters are not mobilized by groups seeking policy or benefit motivations...but are instead motivated [by private consumptive benefits doled out by office seeking groups] then office-seeking groups have less reason to respond to them.” • In other words, the group, although mobilized to vote, will have little tangible rewards to show as a group for their effort.**Next Week**• Candidates, Primaries, and Divergence • How did we end up with Obama and McCain as the nominees?**Don’t**Cooperate Cooperate 3 , 3 1 , 4 Don’t Cooperate Cooperate 4 , 1 2 , 2 Prisoners’ Dilemma**Prisoners’ Dilemma**• Symbolic Form: • We’re in a Prisoner’s Dilemma situation whenever: T > R > P > S Temptation to defect > Rewards of Cooperation Rewards > Punishment for Not Cooperating Punishment > Sucker’s Payoff**Prisoners’ Dilemma**• Note that even if we start at the cooperative outcome, that outcome is not stable • Each player can improve his/her position by adopting a different strategy**Don’t**Cooperate Cooperate 3 , 3 1 , 4 Don’t Cooperate Cooperate 4 , 1 2 , 2 back Prisoners’ Dilemma**Prisoners’ Dilemma**• But since both players have changed strategy we end up at the non-cooperative outcome, where both players are worse off than if they had chosen to cooperate**Don’t**Cooperate Cooperate 3 , 3 1 , 4 Don’t Cooperate Cooperate 4 , 1 2 , 2 Prisoners’ Dilemma**Prisoners’ Dilemma**• And, as we noted, this non-cooperative outcome is also a Nash equilibrium outcome; • Neither player has any incentive to change strategy since whoever changes will do immediately worse by making the move**Don’t**Cooperate Cooperate 3 , 3 1 , 4 Don’t Cooperate Cooperate 4 , 1 2 , 2 Prisoners’ Dilemma**PD & Interest Group**• If a “collective good” is involved, individuals have little incentive to work towards achieving that good. • Makes sense for others to do the work and sit back and reap the benefits of their labor • But if that’s the case, then no one will do the work and the collective benefit won’t be delivered back

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