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Betting on the underdog: the influence of social networks on vote choice

Annika Fredén, Ludovic Rheault and Indridi H. Indridason

Political Science Research and Methods, 2022, vol. 10, issue 1, 198-205

Abstract: People are commonly expected not to waste their vote on parties with small probabilities of being elected. Yet, many end up voting for underdogs. We argue that voters gauge the popular support for their preferred party from their social networks. When social networks function as echo chambers, a feature observed in real-life networks, voters overestimate underdogs’ chances of winning. We conduct voting experiments in which some treatment groups receive signals from a simulated network. We compare the effect of networks with a high degree of homogeneity against random networks. We find that homophilic networks increase the level of support for underdogs, which provides evidence to back up anecdotal claims that echo chambers foster the development of fringe parties.

Date: 2022
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