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New Hampshire Effect: Behavior in Sequential and Simultaneous Election Contests

Irfanoglu, Zeynep and Mago, Shakun and Sheremeta, Roman (2015): New Hampshire Effect: Behavior in Sequential and Simultaneous Election Contests.

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Sequential contests are predicted to induce lower expenditure than simultaneous contests. This prediction is a result of a “New Hampshire Effect” – a strategic advantage created by the winner of the first battle. Contrary to this prediction, however, our laboratory study of the three-battle contests shows that sequential contests generate significantly higher expenditure than simultaneous contests. In case of sequential contests, we observe significant over-expenditure in all three battles and find no evidence of the “New Hampshire Effect.” Despite the strategic advantage, winners of the first battle make similar expenditures in the second battle as losers of the first battle. Moreover, instead of decreasing, subjects increase their expenditure in the second battle relative to the first battle. In case of simultaneous contests, subjects do not employ a uniform expenditure strategy and instead use a “guerilla warfare” strategy by focusing on only two of the three battles. We propose several explanations for these findings and discuss some implications.

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