The ballot order effect is huge: evidence from Texas
Received: 14 September 2016 / Accepted: 29 April 2017 / Published online: 18 May 2017
Ó Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017
Abstract Primary and runoff elections in Texas provide an ideal test of the ballot order
hypothesis, because ballot order is randomized within each county and the state offers
many counties and contests to analyze. Doing so for all statewide ofﬁces contested in the
2014 Democratic and Republican primaries and runoffs yields precise estimates of the
ballot order effect across 24 different contests, including several not studied previously.
Except for a few high-proﬁle, high-information races, the ballot order effect is large,
especially in down-ballot races for judicial positions. There, the empirical results indicate
that going from last to ﬁrst on the ballot raises a candidate’s vote share by nearly ten
percentage points. The magnitude of this effect is not sensitive to demographic and eco-
Keywords Ballot order effect Á Primary elections Á Runoff elections Á Framing
JEL Classiﬁcation D72 Á D83
Elections aggregate information. Bond elections gather information about the desirability
of various public goods. Ballot propositions and elections for legislative and executive
ofﬁce gather information about the desirability of various policies, among other things.
And judicial elections gather information about the perceived competencies of would-be
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11127-017-0454-8)
contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
& Darren Grant
Department of Economics and International Business, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville,
TX 77341, USA
Public Choice (2017) 172:421–442