Does the Number of Candidates Increase Turnout? Causal Evidence From Two-Round Elections

64 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2019 Last revised: 19 Jan 2021

See all articles by Damien Bol

Damien Bol

King's College London - Department of Political Economy

Ria Ivandic

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP); University of London - Department of Political Economy

Date Written: July 7, 2020

Abstract

We estimate the causal effect of the number of candidates on turnout in applying a regression discontinuity design (RDD) to data from 13,974 legislative and cantonal electoral districts in France since 1978. In the two-round system used in these elections, the candidates who pass a certain vote threshold in the first round can participate in the second round. We use this discontinuity in qualifying to compare districts in which the third candidate falls just above and below this threshold. We find that an additional candidate increases turnout by 4.1% points and the share of valid votes by 7.7% points. Further, we look into the mechanism and find evidence supporting the alienation theory, according to which turnout increases the most when the third candidate is from a different ideology than the two first. We also confirm this finding with an analysis of individual-level survey data from the 2012 legislative election.

Keywords: Turnout, Regression Discontinuity, Causal Inference, Spatial Model of Voting, France

Suggested Citation

Bol, Damien and Ivandic, Ria, Does the Number of Candidates Increase Turnout? Causal Evidence From Two-Round Elections (July 7, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3456760 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3456760

Damien Bol

King's College London - Department of Political Economy ( email )

Strand Campus
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Ria Ivandic (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

University of London - Department of Political Economy ( email )

Strand Building
London
United Kingdom

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