NBER

Felix Schönenberger

Università della Svizzera Italiana
Via Giuseppe Buffi 13
6904 Lugano
Switzerland

E-Mail: felix.schoenenberger@usi.ch
Institutional Affiliation: Università della Svizzera Italiana

NBER Working Papers and Publications

June 2017Identifying the Effect of Election Closeness on Voter Turnout: Evidence from Swiss Referenda
with Leonardo Bursztyn, Davide Cantoni, Patricia Funk, Noam Yuchtman: w23490
We provide evidence of a causal effect of anticipated election closeness on voter turnout, exploiting the precise day-level timing of the release of Swiss national poll results for high-stakes federal referenda, and a novel dataset on daily mail-in voting for the canton of Geneva. Using an event study design, we find that the release of a closer poll causes voter turnout to sharply rise immediately after poll release, with no differential pre-release turnout levels or trends. We provide evidence that polls affect turnout by providing information shaping beliefs about closeness: first, the introduction of Swiss polls had significantly larger effects in politically unrepresentative municipalities, where locally available signals of closeness are less correlated with national closeness. Secon...

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