During the 1984 Presidential election — to test the theory that voting caused people to become as optimistic as gamblers after betting on a horse — seven Cornell researchers stood right outside the door of polling stations and interviewed voters going in and coming out.
The race was between President Reagan, the overwhelming favorite — who was leading polls by 17 to 20% — and former Vice President Walter Mondale; who had served under the continually maligned Jimmy Carter; and was considered, arguably, too liberal to win, actually highlighting that he would raise taxes. Predictably, the Cornell researchers who caught people before voting found that Reagan supporters were more optimistic than supporters of Mondale. But the post-vote interview was strange to many — on a scale of 1 to 9, where a candidate was judged a “slight,” favorite to win, up to “can’t lose,” Mondale supporters, on average, were nearly a full scale-point more confident than they had been before marking their ballots; going from thinking, say, that their candidate had a “fair” chance to win to a “good” chance. …
Are voters irrational or are they just pretending to be?
Right after President Trump’s inauguration in 2017, YouGov conducted a survey comparing overhead photos of President Obama’s first inauguration and Trump’s — with Obama’s looking like an ant supercolony, covering everything bur chewed-up winter trees; while the other shows an (almost) “empty field,” to quote Trump himself.
Many, or maybe most, people who had even cursorily watched news coverage of both inaugurations guessed from the unlabeled photos that Obama’s crowd was the bigger one, while, for whatever reasons, 40% of Republicans guessed that the same photo was of Trump’s.
But, researchers were stunned by the next result. One in seven Trump voters said the “empty field” photo showed more people. …