The Bandwagon Effect and its Application
The bandwagon effect is a phenomenon where individuals will likely follow the opinions and suggestion of other people without having to make their own decision (Rothschild, and Neil). The aspect has been applied in politics since the 19th century where people will likely vote for the person who is trending. The phenomenon has also been applied in consumer behavior where people will purchase certain products because they are trending. Nevertheless, the use of the opinion polls has been one of the means through which the bandwagon effect has been propagated to ensure that certain leaders get their place in the political arena (Bloom, and Bloom). According to this effect, many people will vote for the individual who has performed well in the opinion polls.
The Role of Media in the Bandwagon Effect
The media plays a greater role in the propagation of the bandwagon effect. This is because through the publication of the results some of the voters will think that a certain individual has already won the election. For example, in a survey that was conducted by ReachTEL in 2013 which wanted to understand how the voters thought about who would win regardless of whom they would vote for revealed that 74.2% thought that the Coalition would win while 25.8% of the voters thought that the Labor party would win (Balnaves). Moreover, 3% of the Coalition thought that Labor would win while 43% of those who would vote for Labor thought that Coalition would win. This was as a result of the continued opinion polls that showed Coalition having the lead. This has prompted some countries such as India to ban the opinion polls before elections. On the other hand, Australia allows polls before and during the elections and voting process (Balnaves).
Influence on Activists and Political Support
In a nutshell, the bandwagon effect may also affect the activists on which party they would support with their donations and voluntary works during the period of campaigning. They will provide these resources to the contenders who are perceived to have greater influence during the elections (Schmitt-Beck, p. 1-5). The individuals will use the bandwagon effect, especially where they have got little knowledge of the candidates in an election. Therefore, the polls will give a bandwagon effect that may lead to people voting for a certain individual in an election.
Balnaves, Mark. "How Political Opinion Polls Affect Voter Behaviour." The Conversation, 20 June 2016, theconversation.com/how-political-opinion-polls-affect-voter-behaviour-60554.
Bloom, Linda, and Charlie Bloom. "The Bandwagon Effect." Psychology Today, 2017, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/stronger-the-broken-places/201708/the-bandwagon-effect. Accessed 15 Dec 2018.
Rothschild, David, and Neil Malhotra. "Are public opinion polls self-fulfilling prophecies?." Research " Politics 1.2 (2014): 2053168014547667.
Schmitt‐Beck, Rüdiger. "Bandwagon effect." The international encyclopedia of political communication (2015): 1-5.