NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Patricia Funk

Università della Svizzera Italiana
Via Giuseppe Buffi 13
6904 Lugano
Switzerland

E-Mail: patricia.funk@usi.ch

NBER Working Papers and Publications

June 2017Polls, the Press, and Political Participation: The Effects of Anticipated Election Closeness on Voter Turnout
with Leonardo Bursztyn, Davide Cantoni, Noam Yuchtman: w23490
Models of voting, including the canonical rational voter model, predict that voters are more likely to turn out when they anticipate a closer election. Yet, evidence of a causal effect of anticipated election closeness on voter turnout is limited. We exploit naturally occurring variation in the existence, closeness, and dissemination of pre-election polls to identify a causal effect of anticipated election closeness on voter turnout in Swiss referenda. Closer elections are associated with greater turnout only when polls exist. Examining within-election variation in newspaper reporting on polls across cantons, we find that close polls increase turnout significantly more where newspapers report on them most. This holds examining only “incidental” exposure to coverage by periodicals whose lar...
 
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