Election turnout statistics in many countries: similarities, differences, and a diffusive field model for decision-making

16 May 2012

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We study in details the turnout rate statistics for 77 elections in 11 different countries. We show that the empirical results established in a previous paper for French elections appear to hold much more generally. We find in particular that the spatial correlation of turnout rates decay logarithmically with distance in all cases. This result is quantitatively reproduced by a decision model that assumes that each voter makes his mind as a result of three influence terms: one totally idiosyncratic component, one city-specific term with short-ranged fluctuations in space, and one long-ranged correlated field which propagates diffusively in space. A detailed analysis reveals several interesting features: for example, different countries have different degrees of local heterogeneities and seem to be characterized by a different propensity for individuals to conform to the cultural norm. We furthermore find clear signs of herding (i.e. strongly correlated decisions at the individual level) in some countries, but not in others.


Christian Borghesi , Jean-Claude Raynal , Adam Rej

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