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The Behavioral Consequences of Election Outcomes: Evidence From Campaign Contributions

  • Nicolas K. Dumas and Kyle Shohfi

Existing research offers competing predictions as to whether election outcomes affect the future political behavior of individual supporters. Drawing on a dataset of millions of donors across thousands of candidates in different races, this study analyzes a series of regression discontinuities to estimate the effect of donating to a barely winning candidate as opposed to a barely losing one. It finds that winning donors were substantially more likely to donate in the future to that same office type. These effects are large and occur even when their original candidate was not up for re-election. The results show that the consequences of election outcomes extend beyond control of a particular seat, and affect the future behavior of ordinary citizens.

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Department of Political Science, MIT (email:; Sloan School of Business, MIT (email: For their helpful suggestions and feedback, we would like to thank Adam Berinsky, Andrea Campbell, Danny Hidalgo, In Song Kim, Ariel White, Teppei Yamamoto, Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, James Dunham, and Dan de Kadt, as well as participants and discussants in our MPSA Junior Scholar Symposium in 2016. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. 1122374. Data replication sets are available in Harvard Dataverse at and online at

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