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Strategic poll responses when elections create mandates

ABSTRACT

Larger margins of victory impart mandates that pull government policy toward a winner's platform. Voters with centrist preferences then may find pre-election polls useful. Centrists wish to moderate mandates and may abstain rather than vote for the nearest candidate. If polls are known to elicit voting intentions, then races will tend to be closer than predicted, and turnout will be highest in races predicted to be tight. However, voters at the extremes will respond to polls with guile – indeed all voters will. As a result, centrists cannot rely on pre-election polls, and poll results have no effect on voting.