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Conformity Voting and the Value of Public Information

  • Haritz Garro

I study how the quality of information affects politician selection in a two-candidate model where voters want to vote for the best candidate but also for the winner. Voters receive private and public signals about candidates’ relative valence. Public information has a stronger effect on equilibrium outcomes because voters use it to infer other voters’ beliefs. Contrary to what might be expected, more precise public information does not always benefit the better candidate’s electoral prospects: when voters’ private information is precise enough, improving public information hurts the better candidate’s electoral prospects. The model provides a rationale for the prevalence of large swings in voter sentiment in close elections, and for front-runner candidates’ tendency to avoid face-to-face television debates with the underdog.

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Haritz Garro is a PhD candidate in the Department of Economics, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208-0814 ( This paper is a revised version of my Master’s Thesis at CEMFI. The author is grateful to Guillermo Caruana for his invaluable support. The author thanks Massimo Morelli, two anonymous referees, and seminar participants at CEMFI, Northwestern, and UPV/EHU for helpful comments and suggestions. To view supplementary material for this article, please visit

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Political Science Research and Methods
  • ISSN: 2049-8470
  • EISSN: 2049-8489
  • URL: /core/journals/political-science-research-and-methods
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