Original Paper

Political Behavior

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 175-197

First online:

On the Causes and Consequences of Ballot Order Effects

  • Marc MeredithAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania Email author 
  • , Yuval SalantAffiliated withDepartment of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

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We investigate the effect of ballot order on the outcomes of California city council and school board elections. Candidates listed first win office between four and five percentage points more often than expected absent order effects. This first candidate advantage is larger in races with more candidates and for higher quality candidates. The first candidate advantage is similar across contexts: the magnitude of the effect is not statistically distinguishable in city council and in school board elections, in races with and without an open seat, and in races consolidated and not consolidated with statewide general elections. Standard satisficing models cannot fully explain ballot order effects in our dataset of multi-winner elections.


Ballot order effects School boards City council Satisificing