We use a model of impressionable voters to study multi-candidate elections under different electoral rules. Instead of maximizing expected utility, voters cast their ballots based on impressions. We show that, under each rule, there is a monotone relationship between voter preferences and vote measures. The nature of this relationship, however, varies by electoral rule. Vote measures are biased upwards for socially preferred candidates under plurality rule, but biased downwards under negative plurality. There is no such bias under approval voting or Borda count. Voters always elect the socially preferred candidate in two-way races for any electoral rule. In multi-candidate elections, however, the ability to elect a Condorcet winner varies by rule. The results show that multi-candidate elections can perform well even if voters follow simple behavioral rules. The relative performance of specific electoral institutions, however, depends on the assumed behavioral model of voting.

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BFI Working Paper May 24, 2019

Attentiveness in Elections with Impressionable Voters

Daniel Diermeier, Costel Andonie