Stanford Business School professor Jonathan Bendor described the “momentum” phenomenon in a 2011 book he coauthored, A Behavioral Theory of Elections. Bendor said what primary voters do actually makes sense, from the point of view of those who want to make a sound choice but haven’t spent much time studying their options.
He compared it to a diner unfamiliar with Moroccan cuisine going to a Moroccan restaurant for the first time. Looking for native Moroccans at other tables and ordering what they’re ordering is a sound strategy. Just so, voters in Georgia or Virginia or Florida look to see what voters did earlier in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, Bendor said.
“People take cues from other people,” Bendor said. “You shouldn’t think of this as simple-minded conformity. … Voting is an episodic activity at which most of us are amateurs.”
Examples abound in recent presidential elections.