The Role of Opinion Polls in Coordination Amongst Protest Voters: An Experimental Study
SeriesResearch Master Defense
LocationTinbergen Institute Amsterdam, room 1.60
Date and time
August 27, 2021
10:00 - 11:00
In an election, protest voters may signal their discontent with the party they traditionally support in different ways. This paper focuses on a form of protest voting that involves voting for a party (the anti-mainstream) other than a voter’s true first preference (the mainstream), in order to try to influence the mainstream party’s future policies. Protest voters face a trade-off stemming from a coordination problem amongst themselves. Too few protest votes mean that the overall strength of the protest is insufficient to affect the mainstream’s policies, whilst too many protest votes may result in an anti-mainstream victory, resulting in a sub-optimal outcome for the protest voter. We test experimentally whether providing voters with information on the electorate through opinion polls increases the likelihood of a successful protest. We find evidence that polls increase the likelihood of a successful protest by providing information on the underlying distribution of voter types within the electorate and by providing voters with a device to overcome the coordination problem.