We study the impact of rank-based decision-making in a multi-member plurality electoral system by examining the decisions of Philippine legislative councilors to run for and win higher office. By focusing on multi-member plurality elections, we identify the effect of rank amongst politicians that hold the same office and received a similar number of votes. To identify the causal effect of rank, we conduct a close-elections RD at the village, municipality, and province levels. Our main result is the first place effect: incumbent first placers are 5–9% (1–4%) more likely to run (win) in future elections than incumbent second placers. The first place effect is unique among rank effects: subsequent rank comparisons yield substantially weaker or insignificant results. Further evidence suggests that a variety of potential mechanisms—party alignment, strategic voting, differential levels of media exposure or the better performance of first placers—do not seem to explain our results. These results improve our understanding of the variety of ways rank effects interact with electoral systems.
- Multi-member plurality
- Political promotion
- Rank effect
- Regression discontinuity design
- The Philippines