Path-Dependency and Coordination in Multi-Candidate Elections

40 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2011 Last revised: 31 Aug 2011

Date Written: August 14, 2011


We consider a behavioral model of voting in multi-candidate elections. In case of satisfactory payoffs from the poll leader voters increase their propensity to vote for the leading candidate, while in case of unsatisfactory payoffs voters decrease their propensity. We first show that in any stationary distribution and for any configuration of the model, the winner receives a share of 50% of votes. Using results from the 1992 England elections, we show that this implication is consistent with voting data. Second, we show that the process is path-dependent: whether voters manage to coordinate on the majority candidate critically depends on the initial state. Moreover, even if the majority candidate is elected for sure, voting behavior is only partially coordinated.

Keywords: Formal Political Theory

JEL Classification: C72, C73, D70, D72, H11

Suggested Citation

Diermeier, Daniel and Andonie, Costel, Path-Dependency and Coordination in Multi-Candidate Elections (August 14, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Daniel Diermeier (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Costel Andonie

City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK) ( email )

Department of Marketing
Kowloon Tong
Hong Kong

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