Runoff Elections in the Laboratory

59 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2019 Last revised: 28 May 2021

See all articles by Laurent Bouton

Laurent Bouton

Georgetown University - Department of Economics

Jorge A. Gallego

Universidad del Rosario

Aniol Llorente-Saguer

Queen Mary University of London

Rebecca Morton

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2019

Abstract

We study experimentally the properties of the majority runoff system and compare them to the ones of plurality rule, in the setup of a divided majority. Our focus is on Duverger's famous predictions that the plurality rule leads to a higher coordination of votes on a limited number of candidates than the majority runoff rule. Our experiments show that, in contradiction with Duverger's predictions, coordination forces are strong in majority runoff elections. We indeed observe similar levels of coordination under both rules, even when sincere voting is an equilibrium only under majority runoff. Our results suggest that the apparent desire to coordinate, and not vote sincerely, under the majority runoff rule is to some extent not rational. Finally, we find insignificant differences between runoff and plurality systems in terms of both electoral outcomes and welfare. This is so exactly because coordination forces are strong under both rules. But, this does not mean that the two rules are equally socially desirable. Majority runoff rule entails an additional cost: second rounds that take place frequently.

Suggested Citation

Bouton, Laurent and Gallego, Jorge A. and Llorente-Saguer, Aniol and Morton, Rebecca, Runoff Elections in the Laboratory (June 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25949, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3405136

Laurent Bouton (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Department of Economics ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

Jorge A. Gallego

Universidad del Rosario ( email )

Calle 12 No. 6-25
Bogota, DC
Colombia

Aniol Llorente-Saguer

Queen Mary University of London ( email )

Lincoln's Inn Fields
Mile End Rd.
London, E1 4NS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/aniollls/

Rebecca Morton

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

715 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-998-3706 (Phone)

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