What makes people believe that their party won the election?

Dieter Stiers, Jean-Francois Daoust, André Blais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper uses an original question to investigate voters' own evaluations of whether the party they voted for won or lost the election. We examine which aspect of the party's electoral performance has the strongest impact on voters' perceptions. The results reveal that supporters of the largest party – the party with most votes and seats in both Parliament and government – almost unanimously believe that their party won the election. But we find that some supporters of smaller parties also feel their party won, when and if their party gained votes and seats compared to the previous election. Moreover, we test whether it is the party's performance at the district or national level that matters most. We find that voters' judgments are shaped mostly by electoral performance at the national level, but having the local candidate elected in the district can partially compensate for a national defeat.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-29
JournalElectoral Studies
Early online date18 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • winner-loser gap
  • elections
  • voters
  • voting behaviour


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