First Among Equals: The First Place Effect and Political Promotion in Plurality Elections (with Laurence Go)

Under Review.

We study the impact of rank based decision-making in a multi-member plurality electoral system by examining the decisions of Philippine legislative councilors to run for and win higher office. To identify the causal effect of rank, we conduct a close-elections RD at the village, municipality, and province levels. Our main result is the first place effect: incumbent first placers are 5-9% (1-4%) more likely to run (win) in future elections than incumbent second placers. The first place effect is unique among rank effects: subsequent rank comparisons yield substantially weaker or insignificant results. A variety of potential mechanisms do not account for the first place effect. It is not a function of party alignment, strategic voting, differential levels of media exposure or the better performance of first placers. These results improve our understanding of the variety of ways rank effects interact with electoral systems. 

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