Ross Hickey - The Regretful Voter

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Title: The Regretful Voter

Abstract: When do referenda yield non-majority preferred outcomes? Using a simple voting game, we demonstrate that simple majority preferred outcomes can be elusive in referenda settings when voters lack prescience and care about the margin of victory in favor of the alternative. We show that voter regret is necessary but not sufficient for the failure of a referendum to provide the majority preferred outcome. This negative result follows from the lack of information in the environment. A simple rule for achieving a majority preferred outcome is a second ballot. We then extend the model to incorporate abstention, and show that a second ballot is insufficient to obtain a simple majority preferred outcome. We use data from US gubernatorial polling and election data to estimate the parameters of our model and discuss our results in light of recent high stakes referenda.

Presenter: Ross Hickey, Melbourne Institute

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