Tuesday Seminar -21 December

I’m a Loser? Unexpected Election Outcomes and Satisfaction with Democracy

Philippe Mongrain (Université de Montréal)

A great amount of research has noted the existence of a gap between winners and losers in relation to satisfaction with democracy and other political attitudes. One aspect of the winner–loser gap that has been overlooked is the impact of citizens’ expectations and the strength of these expectations on their level of satisfaction with democracy (SWD) and perceptions of electoral fairness. More precisely, how do citizens react to unexpected winners and losers? Are individuals on the losing side less dissatisfied or critical when they recognize that their favourite party or candidate was likely to be defeated at the polls? Does experiencing a surprise victory lead to a boost in satisfaction or perceived electoral integrity? To answer these questions, I use data from multiple national and regional elections in Canada, France, Scotland, and the United States. While the results confirm the existence of a gap between winners and losers in SWD and perceived electoral integrity, citizens’ expectations do not appear to matter, although there is some evidence that unexpected losers are more likely than other losers to hold negative evaluations of electoral fairness.

Contact Semih Çakır if you would like to participate in the seminar.

This content has been updated on 19 January 2022 at 7 h 18 min.