In July 2020 I have been awarded an ERC StG grant to examine the meanings of ‘voting’ for ordinary citizens, their causes and consequences. The project started in January 2021 and will last 5 years.

The central aims of DeVOTE are:

  1. to understand what ‘voting’ means for ordinary citizens;
  2. to examine the variation of ‘voting’ meanings across individuals and across countries;
  3. to study how elections create and modify these ‘voting’ meanings;
  4. to investigate the consequences of ‘voting’ meanings for citizens’ preferences, attitudes and their political behaviours;
  5. to devise an ‘observatory’ for systematic data collection on the meanings of voting on Election Day that can favours the scientific interpretation of election outcomes.

Besides me, a fantastic team of two postdocs, two PhDs and a research admin are involved in the project. Visit the project website for updated information, all related activities and to check how can you be involved in the project!

Working papers

Boyer, M. Ming, Cal Le Gall, and Carolina Plescia. "Negative Campaigns, Negative Votes? The Effects of Negative and Dirty Campaigns on Citizen Meanings of Voting."

Working Paper Pre-registration Hungary Pre-registration USA

Paper won the 2022 ECPR Political Communication Division Best Paper Award.

While there is considerable evidence on the effects of negative campaigns on mobilization and support for democracy, such research has often overlooked effects on how citizens perceive the electoral process itself. Closing this gap may account for mixed results in the existing literature. In this paper, we explore the relationship between different types of campaigning (ie, positive, negative and “dirty”) and citizen meanings of voting, which we believe is paramount to account for those mixed findings. Cross-sectional evidence suggests predictable effects of ingroup and outgroup campaign perceptions on whether citizens vote for one candidate or against another, or find voting meaningless altogether. A survey experiment, however, finds no effects of campaigns on meanings of voting, but rather a partisan bias in campaign perceptions. Explanations for this disparity, as well as consequences for democracy are discussed.

Plescia, Carolina, Ming M. Boyer, and Belén María Abdala. "Vital Victories and Disastrous Defeats: Outgroup Vote Delegitimization, Affective Polarization and Acceptance of Election Results."


Paper presented at the 2023 Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) meeting, Chicago (USA), at the 2023 European Political Science Association (EPSA) meeting, Glasgow (UK) and at the 2023 European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), Prague (Czech Republic).

Affective polarization – namely hostility towards outgroup party supporters – appears to be on the rise in many countries. This phenomenon has attracted increasing scholarly attention due to its potentially pernicious consequences. Research into the democratic consequences is, however, scarce. This study looks at a novel manifestation of affective polarization, namely the delegitimization of the outgroup vote, its correlation with affective polarization and its consequences for satisfaction with and acceptance of election results. Our main argument is that since democratic norms prescribe accepting an election’s loss, in order to rationalize not accepting election results, affectively polarized citizens are likely to delegitimize the political opponents’ vote choice. We investigate two research questions: a. How does affective polarization relate to outgroup vote delegitimization? b. Is there a link between outgroup vote delegitimization and satisfaction with and refusing to accept of the electoral loss? We test our preregistered hypotheses using survey data from three different contexts: the 2022 elections held in the USA (N = 4000), Brazil (N = 2000) and Italy (N = 1500). The findings show that affective polarization relates to higher outgroup vote delegitimization and that the latter decreases satisfaction with and acceptance of the election result in case of a loss while increasing satisfaction with and acceptance of the election result in case of a win. The results also show that outgroup vote delegitimization is a related but distinct phenomenon to affective polarization. The results inform scholars about the extent to which affective polarization is connected to citizens’ views on the electoral process, and the extent to which they view outgroup party supporters as corrupting the electoral process.

Boyer, Ming M., Anna-Lia Brunetti and Carolina Plescia. "In It to Win It? The Role of Citizen Meanings of Voting in the Winner-Loser Gap of Diffuse Political Support."


Paper presented at the 2022 American Political Science Association (APSA) meeting, Montreal, Canada.

A plethora of research has found a gap in diffuse political support between winners and losers of elections, as well as the institutional and contextual factors that affect this gap. However, individual differences in this gap have largely been overlooked. In this paper, we explore whether the way people see voting impact the winner-loser gap. Using a three-wave panel study during the 2022 Hungarian elections, the preliminary findings are mixed. They suggest that for citizens that see voting as an instrumental act – i.e., affecting the outcome of the election – the winner-loser gap is amplified, while it is reduced for those that vote because it is ethical to do so. Voting to express oneself is not related to diffuse political support, and voting to express allegiance to democracy led to more support among both winners and losers. These findings help to clarify the factors that lead to the winner-loser gap in political support in the first place, and inform government bodies that attempt to reduce it and improve diffuse political support.