Public Choice

, Volume 160, Issue 3–4, pp 327–344 | Cite as

Identifying the bandwagon effect in two-round elections

  • Áron KissEmail author
  • Gábor Simonovits


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.


Bandwagon effect Underdog effect Two-round elections Runoff Turnout West Coast effect 

JEL Classification

D72 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.


  1. Asch, S. E. (1951). Effects of group pressure upon the modification and distortion of judgment. In H. Guetzkow (Ed.), Groups, leadership, and men. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Press. Google Scholar
  2. Asch, S. E. (1955). Opinions and social pressure. Scientific American, 193(5), 31–35. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ashworth, J., Geys, B., & Heyndels, B. (2006). Everyone likes a winner: an empirical test of the effect of electoral closeness on turnout in a context of expressive voting. Public Choice, 128, 383–405. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bartels, L. (1985). Expectations and preferences in presidential nomination campaigns. American Political Science Review, 79(3), 804–815. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blais, A., Gidengil, E., & Nevitte, N. (2006). Do polls influence the vote? In H. Brady & R. G. C. Johnston (Eds.), Capturing campaign effects. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Google Scholar
  6. Callander, S. (2007). Bandwagons and momentum in sequential voting. Review of Economic Studies, 74, 653–684. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ceci, S. J., & Kain, E. L. (1982). Jumping on the bandwagon with the underdog: the impact of attitude polls on polling behavior. Public Opinion Quarterly, 46, 228–242. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cox, G. W. (1997). Making votes count: strategic coordination in the world’s electoral systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Delli Carpini, M. X. (1984). Scooping the voters? The consequences of the networks’ early call of the 1980 presidential race. The Journal of Politics, 46(3), 866–885. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Faas, T., Mackenrodt, C., & Schmitt-Beck, R. (2008). Polls that mattered: effects of media polls on voters’ coalition expectations and party preferences in the 2005 German parliamentary election. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 20(3), 299–325. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fauvelle-Aymar, C., & Francois, A. (2006). The impact of closeness on turnout: an empirical relation based on a study of a two-round ballot. Public Choice, 127, 469–491. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fuchs, D. A. (1966). Election-day radio-television and western voting. Public Opinion Quarterly, 30, 226–236. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gallup, G., & Rae, S. F. (1940). Is there a bandwagon vote? Public Opinion Quarterly, 4, 244–249. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Goidel, R. K., & Shields, T. G. (1994). The vanishing marginals, the bandwagon, and the mass media. The Journal of Politics, 56(3), 802–810. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Golub, B., & Jackson, M. O. (2010). Naive learning in social networks and the wisdom of crowds. American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 2(1), 112–149. Google Scholar
  16. Hodgson, R., & Maloney, J. (2013). Bandwagon effects in British elections, 1885–1910. Public Choice, 157, 73–90 (forthcoming) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hong, C. S., & Konrad, K. A. (1998). Bandwagon effects and two-party majority voting. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 16(2), 165–172. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jackson, J. E. (1983). Election night reporting and voter turnout. American Journal of Political Science, 27(4), 615–635. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kiss, A. (2012). Identifying strategic voting in two-round elections. Unpublished manuscript. Google Scholar
  20. Krizan, Z., Miller, J. C., & Johar, O. (2010). Wishful thinking in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Psychological Science, 21, 140–146. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lazarsfeld, P., Berelson, B., & Gaudet, H. (1948). The people’s choice: how the voter makes up his mind in a presidential campaign. New York: Columbia University Press. Google Scholar
  22. Leibenstein, H. (1950). Bandwagon, snob, and Veblen effects in the theory of consumers’ demand. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 64(2), 183–207. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lott, J. R. Jr. (2005). The impact of early media election calls on republican voting rates in Florida’s western Panhandle counties in 2000. Public Choice, 123(3–4), 349–361. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McAllister, I., & Studlar, D. T. (1991). Bandwagon, underdog or projection: opinion polls and electoral choice in Britain, 1979–1987. The Journal of Politics, 53(3), 720–741. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Marsh, C. (1985). Back on the bandwagon: the effect of opinion polls on public opinion. British Journal of Political Science, 15(1), 51–74. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mendelsohn, H. (1966). Election-day broadcasts and terminal voting decisions. Public Opinion Quarterly, 30, 212–225. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Morwitz, V. G., & Pluzinski, C. (1996). Do polls reflect opinions or do opinions reflect polls? The impact of political polling on voters’ expectations, preferences and behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 23(1), 53–67. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mutz, D. C. (1997). Mechanics of momentum: does thinking make it so? The Journal of Politics, 59(1), 104–125. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nadeau, R., Cloutier, E., & Guay, J. H. (1993). New evidence about the existence of a bandwagon effect in the opinion formation process. International Political Science Review, 14(2), 203–213. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Navazio, R. (1977). An experimental approach to bandwagon research. Public Opinion Quarterly, 41(2), 217–225. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Simon, H. A. (1954). Bandwagon and underdog effects and the possibility of election predictions. Public Opinion Quarterly, 18(3), 245–253. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Simonovits, G. (2012). Competition and turnout revisited: the importance of measuring expected closeness accurately. Electoral Studies, 31(2), 364–371. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Skalaban, A. (1988). Do the polls influence elections? Some 1980 evidence. Political Behavior, 10(2), 136–150. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sonck, N., & Loosveldt, G. (2010). Impact of poll results on personal opinions and perceptions of collective opinion. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 22(2), 230–255. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sudman, S. (1986). Do exit polls influence voting behavior? Public Opinion Quarterly, 50(3), 331–339. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tuchman, S., & Coffin, T. E. (1971). The influence of election night television broadcasts in a close election. Public Opinion Quarterly, 40, 315–326. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Central Bank of Hungary (MNB)BudapestHungary
  2. 2.Directorate General for Economic and Financial AffairsEuropean CommissionBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

Personalised recommendations