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It is widely assumed that celebrities are imbued with political capital and the power to move opinion. To understand the sources of that capital in the specific domain of sports celebrity, we investigate the popularity of global soccer superstars. Specifically, we examine players’ success in the Ballon d’Or—the most high-profile contest to select the world’s best player. Based on historical election results as well as an original survey of soccer fans, we find that certain kinds of players are significantly more likely to win the Ballon d’Or. Moreover, we detect an increasing concentration of votes on these kinds of players over time, suggesting a clear and growing hierarchy in the competition for soccer celebrity. Further analyses of support for the world’s two best players in 2016 (Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo) show that, if properly adapted, political science concepts like partisanship have conceptual and empirical leverage in ostensibly non-political contests.
Through a panel analysis conducted in Bavaria, which covers two adjacent elections – the federal elections and the European elections in 2013 and 2014 – we examine the attitudinal factors that drive citizens’ propensity to turn out. We find that abstainers have generally low levels of knowledge, interest and sense of civic duty. National-level voters have relatively high interest, knowledge and sense of duty in national politics, but not in European affairs. In contrast, European- and national-level voters have high interest, knowledge and a sense of duty for both national and European politics. This finding contextualizes the characterization of European elections as second-order national elections. While prior research has established that voters make their vote choice based on national-level politics, we demonstrate that European elections are not national elections when it comes to citizens’ decision to vote. Rather, knowledge, interest and a sense of duty about national politics are not sufficient conditions for somebody to vote in the European elections. The person needs to have the same positive attitudes about European affairs as they have about national politics to participate in European elections.
We study data on the gender of more than 21,000 unique candidates in all Canadian federal elections since 1921, when the first women ran for seats in Parliament. This large data set allows us to compute precise estimates of the difference in the electoral fortunes of men and women candidates. When accounting for party effects and time trends, we find that the difference between the vote shares of men and women is substantively negligible (±0.5 percentage point). This gender gap was larger in the 1920s (±2.5 percentage points), but it is now statistically indistinguishable from zero. Our results have important normative implications: political parties should recruit and promote more women candidates because they remain underrepresented in Canadian politics and because they do not suffer from a substantial electoral penalty.
In this paper, we investigate the phenomenon of party switchers in the Canadian House of Commons. With the most extensive dataset on party-switching MPs (1867–2015), we answer the following questions: What are the electoral trajectories of party switchers? Have their prospects changed over time? We assess whether the historical dynamics of the Canadian party system explain changes in the incidence and fate of party switchers since 1867, hypothesizing that both the rate of party switching and the electoral fortunes of floor crossers decline over time. The evidence accords with our second hypothesis more strongly than our first. Party switching has become slightly less common, but the electoral consequence has become much more severe.
Political scientists, analysts and journalists alike have long believed that the degree of satisfaction with the functioning of democracy determines voter turnout. We use survey data from 24 panel studies to demonstrate that this causal relationship is actually reversed: voter turnout affects satisfaction with democracy. We also show that this reversed relationship is conditioned by election type, electoral system, and election outcomes. These findings are important because: (1) They question conventional wisdom and a large body of scientific literature; (2) They invite a more nuanced approach towards the study of the relationship between evaluations of regime performance and political participation; and (3) They emphasize the vital role of elections in shaping citizens’ perception of the democratic process.
We address two questions: How many voters particularly like a candidate from another party? And do these voters vote for their preferred party or their preferred candidate? We use the Making Electoral Democracy Work data for the 2015 Canadian federal election in three provinces (British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec). We find that one voter out of ten particularly liked a candidate from a party other than the one he or she preferred. For two out of five of such voters, the preference for the local candidate trumped the party preference.
Using official electoral results from provincial elections since 1973, we evaluate the incumbency effect in Quebec by measuring the impact of a combination of characteristics related to candidates and political parties. We verify whether the presence of an incumbent candidate is necessary to ensure that the incumbent party benefits from an electoral advantage. We also compare the magnitude of the incumbency effect between governing and opposition parties. Making use of parametric multivariate statistical tools, we conclude that political parties benefit from an electoral advantage in Quebec. Except for ministers who make a small difference, simple Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) do not improve their electoral performance, while in some cases new candidates with incumbent parties perform better.
There is abundant empirical evidence that the plurality rule constrains party competition and favors two-party systems. This reduction of party system fragmentation may be due to parties deciding not to enter elections for which they are not viable and/or voters voting strategically. Yet, no prior research has attempted to estimate the respective role of parties and voters in this process. To fill this gap, we conducted a unique laboratory experiment where some subjects played the role of parties and others played the role of voters, and where the two were able to respond to each other just as in real-life elections. We find that the reduction due to party strategic exit is higher than that due to strategic voting. We conclude that parties play a key role in the effect of the plurality rule on party system fragmentation.
Regret is a basic affect associated with individual choice. While much research in organizational science and consumer behavior has assessed the precedents and consequents of regret, little attention has been paid to regret in political science. The present study assesses the relationship between one of the most democratically consequential forms of political behavior—voting—and feelings of regret. We examine the extent to which citizens regret how they voted after doing so and the factors that might lead one individual to be more regretful than another. Relying on surveys in five different countries after 11 regional and national elections, we find not only that political information leads to a decrease in post-election regret, but also that having voted correctly, or having voted in accordance with one’s underlying preferences regardless of information, similarly mitigates regret. The effect of correct voting on regret is greater among the least informed.
Carey and Hix (2011) propose that a proportional electoral system with a moderate number of seats per district offers the best compromise between (1) accurate representation and (2) strong accountability. The argument is that there is a district magnitude (DM) level where the trade-off between proportionality and fragmentation of parties is optimal. This DM is called the sweet spot. We explore this proposition through lab experiments conducted in Brussels and Montreal. We find that the probability of achieving a “good” outcome on both proportionality and the number of parties is slightly higher at moderate DMs. We note, however, that this probability remains low.
We propose a new standard for evaluating the performance of electoral democracies: the correspondence between citizens’ party preferences and the party composition of governments that are formed after elections. We develop three criteria for assessing such correspondence: the proportion of citizens whose most preferred party is in government, whether the party that is most liked overall is in government, and how much more positively governing parties are rated than non-governing parties. We pay particular attention to the last criterion, which takes into account how each citizen feels about each of the parties as well as the intensity of their preferences. We find that proportional representation systems perform better on the first criterion. Majoritarian systems do better on the other two.
We study strategic voting behaviour in winner-take-all elections by means of an original study in which participants vote to collectively decide how much money should be given to an environmental NGO. We find that supporters of the most NGO-friendly party are reluctant to abandon it, despite its poor electoral viability. The poor electoral viability generates significant anxiety among its supporters and the level of anxiety at the time of voting influences their choice. Moderate levels of anxiety increase the probability of defection, but at high levels, anxiety has a paralyzing effect, making voters less likely to abandon their preferred choice.
This article reports on an Internet-based quasi-experiment that took place during the French 2012 presidential election. We designed a website where French voters could vote under different voting rules. Based on the observation of more than 8,000 participants, we find that a substantial minority (10% to 15%) vote differently under the different systems, with 17% of the voters not voting for their preferred candidate in the one-round election, this percentage dropped to 12% in the alternative vote (first choice). Compared to the two-rounds election, at the aggregate level, the top two candidates get slightly more votes under one round, while the minor candidates obtain more first choices under the alternative vote. These findings are consistent with what the literature suggests about the impact of these voting systems on voters' choice.
Résumé. Les études sur le comportement électoral au niveau municipal sont rares. Sont encore plus rares celles qui comparent les élections municipales avec celles d'un autre niveau. Cette recherche vise à combler ce vide, mais d'une manière particulière : nous nous intéressons aux gens qui choisissent de s'abstenir de façon sélective. Il s'agit donc de voir pourquoi certains votent lors des élections fédérales mais non lors des élections municipales, ou pourquoi une élection de « deuxième niveau » serait moins attirante qu'une élection de « premier niveau ». Cette question est examinée à l'aide d'un échantillon composé de jeunes montréalais ayant entre 19 et 31 ans. Quatre déterminants sont plus fortement liés à l'abstention sélective : l'identification partisane, l'enracinement local, l'intérêt pour la politique et l'utilisation des services municipaux.
Abstract. Studies of electoral behaviour at the municipal level are rare. Even less frequent are those comparing behaviour in municipal elections and in elections at other levels of government. Our aim is to address this gap in the research, with particular interest paid to people who choose to abstain in a selective way. This study considers those who participate in federal elections but not in municipal elections. Stated alternatively, why might second-order elections be less attractive to voters than first-order elections? To address this question, we use a sample composed of young Montrealers aged 19 to 31. Four determinants were found to be important when explaining selective abstention : partisan identification, local attachment, political interest and use of municipal services.
We propose an experimental design particularly adapted to the study of individual behavior in collective action situations. The experimental protocol improves on the artificiality that is commonly present in lab and survey experiments to achieve a closer replication of the real-life conditions of such decisions while avoiding the high costs associated with field experiments. We exemplify this design by means of a study on strategic voting in elections.
In this article we report the results from a new survey of political scientists regarding their evaluations of journals in the political science discipline. Unlike previous research that has focused on data from the United States, we conducted an Internet survey of political scientists in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. We present data on journal evaluations, journal familiarity, and journal impact, both for our entire sample (N = 1,695) and separately for respondents from each of the three countries. We document the overall hierarchy of scholarly journals among political scientists, though we find important similarities and differences in how political scientists from these three countries evaluate the scholarly journals in the discipline. Our results suggest that there is a strong basis for cross-national integration in scholarly journal communication, though methodological differences among the three countries may be an impediment.