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Sorting Out Mechanical and Psychological Effects in Candidate Elections: An Appraisal with Experimental Data

  • Blais, André
  • Laslier, Jean-François
  • Sauger, Nicolas
  • Van Der Straeten, Karine

The paper proposes a way to measure mechanical and psychological effects of majority runoff versus plurality electoral systems in candidate elections. Building on a series of laboratory experiments, we evaluate these effects with respect to the probability of electing a Condorcet winner candidate. In our experiment, the runoff system very slightly favours the Condorcet winner candidate, but this total effect is small. We show that this is the case because the mechanical and psychological effects tend to cancel each other out. Compared to plurality, the mechanical effect of runoffs is to systematically advantage the Condorcet winner candidate, as usually assumed; but our study detects an opposite psychological effect, to the disadvantage of this candidate.

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Paper provided by Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) in its series TSE Working Papers with number 12-296.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
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Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:25769
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Web page: http://www.tse-fr.eu/

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