Identifying the bandwagon effect in two-round elections
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We propose a new method to test for the existence of the bandwagon effect, the notion that voters are more likely to vote for a given candidate if they expect the candidate to win. Two-round election systems with a large number of single-member districts offer an ideal testing ground because results from the first round provide a better benchmark for voter expectations than any possible alternative measure. Using data from the 2002 and 2006 general elections in Hungary, we find that the lead of a candidate in the first round is magnified by about 10 percent in the second round, controlling for country-wide swings of the electorate between the two rounds and for the behavior of voters of smaller parties. A separate exercise suggests that at least part of the effect is caused by the lower probability of individuals voting in the second round if their preferred candidate is likely to lose by a large margin.
KeywordsBandwagon effect Underdog effect Two-round elections Runoff Turnout West Coast effect
JEL ClassificationD72 D80
This research had been conducted before Áron Kiss started working at the European Commission. Opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of their past or present institutions. The authors would like to thank Ivo Bischoff, Benny Geys, Kai Konrad, Balázs Muraközy, Christian Pfeil, Gábor Tóka, Balázs Váradi, participants of the PolBeRG seminar at Central European University (Budapest), the Meeting of the Hungarian Association for Economics in 2011, and the European Public Choice Society Meeting 2013 (Zürich), as well as four anonymous referees and the Editor in Chief, for useful comments and suggestions. Any remaining error or omission is our responsibility.
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