Informed voters and electoral outcomes: a natural experiment stemming from a fundamental information-technological shift

Shane Sanders, Joel Potter, Justin Ehrlich, Justin Perline, Christopher Boudreaux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Do informed electorates choose better candidates? While that question is straightforward, its answer often is elusive. Typically, candidate-quality information is neither salient nor subject to exogenous change. We identify a natural experiment within a non-political election setting that is transparent and features exogenous change in the candidate-quality information frontier. The setting is Major League Baseball’s (MLB) annual selection of two most valuable players, a challenging environment with an innately heterogeneous candidate set, and the exogenous change is the development of the pathbreaking, comprehensive player-value measure Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 2004 and its subsequent calculation for all retrospective MLB player-seasons. WAR's development and rapid popularization informed voting from 2004 onward. Retrospective calculation allows us to draw back the curtain and evaluate how pre-2004 voters behaved with respect to revealed candidate quality. From negative binomial, fixed-effect regression models, we find robust evidence of significant, substantial, pivotal behavioral change on the part of voters since 2004.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPublic Choice
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Candidate quality
  • Information frontier shift
  • Major league baseball
  • Voter information
  • Voting behavior
  • Wins above replacement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics

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