How Campaigns Respond to Ballot Position: A New Mechanism for Order Effects


An established finding on ballot design is that prominent positions on the ballot improves the electoral performance of parties or candidates because voters respond behaviorally to salient information. This paper presents evidence on an additional unexplored mechanism: campaigns, who act before voters, adjust their behavior when allocated a salient position on the ballot. We use a constituency-level lottery of ballot positions in Colombia and first establish that a ballot-order effect exists: campaigns randomly placed at the top earn more votes and seat shares. Second, we show that campaigns react to being placed on top of the ballot: they raise and spend more money on their campaign and spending is correlated with higher vote shares. In addition to presenting evidence for how campaigns react strategically to election administration, our results provide the first evidence for a new mechanism for the ballot-order effects examined in many previous studies.

Journal of Politics (Conditional Acceptance)