We propose a model of attentiveness in elections with impressionable voters under various electoral rules. Voters’ behavior is determined by their attentiveness and impressions of candidates. We show that attentiveness is as important as voters’ preferences for the outcome of the election. Specifically, we show that candidates benefit from increased voter attention under all rules other than negative plurality. Second, less attentive voters have a larger impact on the election outcome under plurality and negative plurality rules, but not under approval voting. Third, under limited and endogenous attentiveness, a unanimously first-ranked candidate may not win under plurality and approval voting, but he always wins under negative plurality. We finally consider the case of tonality in news coverage and show that under plurality rule and approval voting candidates may benefit from frequent news coverage even if the news is negative.

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BFI Working Paper May 24, 2019

Electoral Institutions with Impressionable Voters

Daniel Diermeier, Costel Andonie