Do Ranked Ballots Stimulate Candidate Entry?

23 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2021

See all articles by Jack Santucci

Jack Santucci

Department of Politics, Drexel University

Jamil Scott

Georgetown University - Government Department

Date Written: November 4, 2021


Systems of ranked-choice voting (RCV) have been cast as ways to diversify candidate pipelines. One purported mechanism is that RCV lets trailing candidates seek non-first-place rankings from their competitors' supporters. In turn, that property might encourage more candidate entry. Does that property resonate with people? Does it operate as suggested on under-represented groups? We approach these questions via survey experiments on attitudes toward running for office. Two involve national surveys, one of which over-samples people of color (the 2020 Collaborative Multiracial Post-election Survey, or CMPS). Two more are in Philadelphia -- large, diverse, and without local RCV advocacy at the time. Our treatments are: that voters can rank choices unlike in the current system (RCV), that transfers can help a person win (RCV+), and that RCV systems have been shown to benefit women and people of color (RCV++). We find null effects with four exceptions: positive for Black respondents from RCV+ (second Philadelphia experiment), positive for White respondents from RCV++ (second Philadelphia experiment), and negative for Latino respondents from RCV++ (second Philadelphia experiment and CMPS). However, none of these effects is large enough to offset generally low interest in running, and one of them (Latinos, second Philadelphia experiment) depends on the type of post-hoc analysis.

Keywords: ranked choice voting, preferential voting, candidate entry, minority representation

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Santucci, Jack and Scott, Jamil, Do Ranked Ballots Stimulate Candidate Entry? (November 4, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Jack Santucci (Contact Author)

Department of Politics, Drexel University ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

Jamil Scott

Georgetown University - Government Department ( email )

Intercultural Center (ICC) 681
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington, DC 20057
United States

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