a1 Department of International Data Infrastructure, GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Unter Sachsenhausen 6-8, Office B112, 50667 Koln, Germany. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
a2 Department of Political Science, Central European University, Nador ut. 9, 1051 Budapest, Hungary
The November 2009 Romanian presidential elections illustrate the process through which media exposure to exit polls during the election day allows strategic voting in the least expected situations (i.e. in the first round of a two-ballot setting). Organized in a two-round system in which the first two competitors qualify for the second round, these elections display one unsolved dilemma. The difference registered in elections between the two challengers is twice as large as the average support in the pre-election polls (a comparable difference was never registered in post-communist Romania). Our quantitative analysis uses election results from the past two decades and aggregated poll data from 2009 and reveals that a large share of the Romanian electorate avoids wasting votes and casts them for candidates with real winning chances. This article argues that polls presented to the voters, by the media during the elections, made the difference. They were used as electoral strategies to trigger strategic voting and thus promote specific candidates.