The Runner-Up Effect

66 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2014 Last revised: 13 May 2022

See all articles by Santosh Anagol

Santosh Anagol

University of Pennsylvania - Wharton School of Business - Business Economics and Public Policy Department

Thomas Fujiwara

Princeton University

Date Written: June 2014

Abstract

Exploiting regression discontinuity designs in Brazilian, Indian, and Canadian first-past-the-post elections, we document that second-place candidates are substantially more likely than close third-place candidates to run in, and win, subsequent elections. Since both candidates lost the election and had similar electoral performance, this is the effect of being labeled the runner-up. We explore the potential mechanisms for this runner-up effect, including selection into candidacy, heuristic behavior by political actors, and the runner-up obtaining an advantage from strategic coordination (being more likely to become a focal point). Selection into candidacy is unlikely to explain the effect on winning subsequent elections, and the weight of evidence suggests the effect is driven by strategic coordination. We find no effect of finishing in third-place versus fourth-place.

Suggested Citation

Anagol, Santosh and Fujiwara, Thomas, The Runner-Up Effect (June 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20261, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2460580

Santosh Anagol (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Wharton School of Business - Business Economics and Public Policy Department ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6372
United States

Thomas Fujiwara

Princeton University ( email )

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544-0708
United States

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