Voting for the lesser evil: Evidence from a conjoint experiment in Romania

Isabela Mares, Giancarlo Visconti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In many elections around the world, voters choose between politicians who differ not only in personal background and policy promises, but also in their history of dishonest electoral conduct. While recent literature has begun to investigate the conditions under which voters punish electoral malfeasance, we know relatively little about whether they penalize different forms of illicit activities carried out by politicians differently. In this paper, we present the results of a candidate choice experiment embedded in a survey fielded prior to the 2016 Romanian local election. We asked voters to choose between two hypothetical candidates, randomly varying several attributes, including different illicit electoral activities. We find that citizens tolerate some forms of political malfeasance less than others depending on how much that malfeasance infringes on voters' autonomy. Informational campaigns carried out by prosecutorial agencies also affect how much voters punish different illicit exchanges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-328
Number of pages14
JournalPolitical Science Research and Methods
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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