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Expressive voting and its costs

Abstract : Voters who support a candidate with little or no chance of winning face a choice: whether to express their true preference, vote for their preferred candidate, and risk wasting their vote; or vote strategically for a second-best candidate who is more likely to be in a position to win. To explore this tradeoff, this study focuses on French parliamentary and local elections, in which the top two candidates always qualify for the second round, and others also qualify if they get a number of voters higher than 12.5 percent of registered citizens. Results show that third candidates who qualify for the second round tend to prefer staying in the race rather than dropping out. Many of the third candidates’ supporters then act expressively and vote for them instead of their second-best candidate among the top two. The study finds this disproportionally harms the candidate ideologically closest to the third and often causes their defeat. This behavior by voters and candidates likely affects the results of many elections beyond those in the study, including European elections and other proportional elections, where voters face similar trade-offs. The results call for ideologically similar parties to reach agreements limiting the number of candidates or lists that are competing, and for the adoption of voting systems in which electoral outcomes are less distorted by voters’ and candidates’ failure to act strategically.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02516426
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Submitted on : Monday, March 23, 2020 - 9:04:17 PM
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  • HAL Id : halshs-02516426, version 1

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Vincent Pons, Clémence Tricaud, Vestal Mcintyre. Expressive voting and its costs. 2019. ⟨halshs-02516426⟩

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