Experimental Electionomics: How Election Forecasts Influence Voter Turnout

2019-08-08T18:31:15Z (GMT) by Ben Kaplan
We create forecasts as a way of reducing the uncertainty that surrounds uncertain events.
Often, forecasts provide information that can be acted upon, and in the case of elections, their
use as a decision aid can have a direct effect on the outcome of the election. Currently, it’s
unclear how potential voters incorporate election forecasts in their decision making. To gain a
better understanding of this, a survey was created and distributed to 186 subjects. Participants
were introduced to two fictional candidates in a hypothetical presidential election, and provided
their stances on a series of political issues. Subjects were asked whether or not they’d vote for
their preferred candidate, and were randomly shown one of four different election forecasts.
Then, they were asked again whether or not they’d vote for their preferred candidate. Overall,
participants’ decision to turn out switched 14% of the time after being shown an election
forecast. There was no evidence to suggest that there is a relationship between the type of
forecast shown and the likelihood that an individual switched his or her turnout decision. This
research shows that election forecasts do have an impact voting behavior, but the mechanism by
which this occurs remains unclear. As such, future research on this topic should be conducted to
better understand how voters use forecasts. This will assist media outlets and campaigns in being
well informed of the impact associated with forecast reporting, allowing American democracy to
grow stronger.