Working Paper BETA #2013-08

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Title : Who’s Favored by Evaluative Voting ? An Experiment Conducted During the 2012 French Presidential Election

Author(s) : Antoinette Baujard, Frédéric Gavrel, Herrade Igersheim, Jean-François Laslier, Isabelle Lebon

Abstract : Under evaluative voting, the voter freely grades each candidate on a numerical scale, with the winning candidate being determined by the sum of the grades they receive. This paper compares evaluative voting with the two-round system, reporting on an experiment which used various evaluation scales, conducted during the first round of the 2012 French presidential election. Invitations to participate in the study were extended to around 5,000 voters in three cities, and the experiment attracted 2,340 participants. Basing our argument on the ranks, relative scores, and grade profiles of candidates, we show that the two-round system favors “exclusive” candidates, that is candidates who elicit strong feelings, while evaluative rules favor “inclusive” candidates, that is candidates who attract the support of a large span of the electorate. These differences are explained by two complementary reasons: the opportunity for the voter to support several candidates under evaluative voting rules, and the specific pattern of strategic voting under the official, two-round voting rule.

Key-words : Voting, In Situ Experiment, Evaluative Voting, Approval Voting, Two-round system.

JEL Classification : D72, C93.