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The Large Effects of a Small Win: How Past Rankings Shape the Behavior of Voters and Candidates

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  • Vincent Pons
  • Clémence Tricaud

Abstract

Candidates’ placements in polls, past elections, or early rounds of a multi-round election can be powerful coordination devices for parties and voters. Using a regression discontinuity design in French two-round elections, we show that candidates who place first by only a small margin in the first round are more likely to stay in the race, win, and win conditionally on staying in than those who come in a very close second. The impacts are even larger for ranking second instead of third, and also present for third instead of fourth. Rankings’ effects are largest when candidates have the same political orientation (making coordination more important), but remain strong when two candidates only qualify for the second round (and coordination is not needed). They stem from allied parties agreeing on which candidate should drop out, voters coordinating their choice, and the “bandwagon effect” of wanting to vote for the winner.

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  • Vincent Pons & Clémence Tricaud, 2019. "The Large Effects of a Small Win: How Past Rankings Shape the Behavior of Voters and Candidates," NBER Working Papers 26599, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26599
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    2. Erika Deserranno & Gianmarco León-Ciliotta & Firman Witoelar, 2021. "When transparency fails: Financial incentives for local banking agents in Indonesia," Economics Working Papers 1766, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • K16 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Election Law

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