Monday, January 18, 2010

Second Round Issues

Two-round systems present challenging dynamics for campaigns. The first round must be taken seriously, even by leading candidates, lest they meet the same fate as Lionel Jospin in France's 2002 presidential election (to be fair to Jospin, his problem had more to do with a split leftist vote than lack of attention). But, the leading candidates can't expend too many resources as they must ensure that they retain the ability to fight and win the second round battle. At the same time, they have to curry favor with minor candidates to extract support - and potentially supporters - in the second round, and mobilize their core voters to come to the polls for the decisive vote. Both the Yanukovych and Tymoshenko campaigns have to carefully assess the answers to several questions as they proceed:
  • How can they ensure that their supporters turn out in the second round? Turnout was lower in 2010 than in other elections, but this may be partly due to falsification in earlier contests. Core supporters seem likely to return to the polls. But, how can they mobilize new supporters (and undermine turnout by opponents' supporters)?
  • How costly are endorsements from the first round losers? To curry favor with other politicians, they have to get something in return.
  • How much benefit do first round losers bring? While some first round losers performed well, especially Tihipko, the campaigns must assess if the losers have mobilizational leverage among their voters to convince many to participate in the second round and vote in a particular manner. If voters would naturally gravitate to one of the candidates, the campaigns have to assess if they worth buying off (e.g., Petro Symonenko supporters are likely to choose Yanukovych in large numbers. Symonenko's support is likely to be less valuable - and less costly - than other candidates' endorsements).

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