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The voters' curses: why we need Goldilocks voters

Prato, Carlo and Wolton, Stephane (2016) The voters' curses: why we need Goldilocks voters. American Journal of Political Science, 60 (3). pp. 726-737. ISSN 0092-5853

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Identification Number: 10.1111/ajps.12223


Scholars have long deplored voters' lack of interest in politics and argued in favor of greater political engagement. We present a formal theory of elections where successful communication of campaign messages requires both effort by candidates and attention from voters. Voters' interest in politics affects their attention, and impacts the effectiveness of the electoral process as a screening and disciplining device. In line with existing theories, there exists a curse of the uninterested voter: When voters have little interest in politics, the electoral process performs poorly, and voters' attention to politics is low. Surprisingly, we uncover a curse of the interested voter, by which the same happens when voters have a strong interest in politics. Our results highlight the importance of distinguishing between voters' interest and attention, two notions often conflated in empirical studies. Moreover, policy interventions aimed at subsidizing the cost of acquiring political information can have unintended consequences.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 Midwest Political Science Association
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > Government
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2015 14:44
Last Modified: 20 May 2020 03:20

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