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The Empirical Frequency of a Pivotal Vote

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  • Mulligan, Casey B
  • Hunter, Charles G

Abstract

Some economic theories of voting suggest that competition leads to close elections, and that election closeness is a factor for bringing voters to the polls. How often in fact are civic elections decided by one vote? One of every 89,000 votes cast in U.S. Congressional elections, and one of 15,000 in state legislator elections, "mattered" in the sense that they were cast for a candidate that tied or won by one vote. We find an inverse relationship between election size and the frequency of one vote margins. Recounts, and other margin-specific election procedures, are determinants of the pivotal vote frequency. Copyright 2003 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 116 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1-2 (July)
Pages: 31-54

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:116:y:2003:i:1-2:p:31-54

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

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  1. Timothy J. Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1995. "The Swing Voter's Curse," Discussion Papers 1064, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Glaeser, Edward L & Sacerdote, Bruce & Scheinkman, Jose A, 1996. "Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 507-48, May.
  3. Howard Margolis, 1977. "Probability of a tie election," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 135-138, September.
  4. Fischer, A J, 1999. " The Probability of Being Decisive," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 101(3-4), pages 267-83, December.
  5. Chamberlain, Gary & Rothschild, Michael, 1981. "A note on the probability of casting a decisive vote," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 152-162, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Ozgur Evren, 2009. "Altruism, Turnout and Strategic Voting Behavior," Levine's Working Paper Archive 814577000000000309, David K. Levine.
  2. Jean-Robert Tyran & Rupert Sausgruber, 2002. "A Little Fairness may Induce a Lot of Redistribution in Democracy," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002 2002-30, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  3. John Maloney & Andrew Pickering, 2008. "Ideology, Competence and Luck: What determines general election results?," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 08/607, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  4. Janne Tukiainen & Teemu Lyytikäinen, 2013. "Voters are rational," Working Papers 50, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  5. Eric Crampton & Andrew Farrant, 2004. "Expressive and Instrumental Voting: The Scylla and Charybdis of Constitutional Political Economy," Public Economics 0401002, EconWPA.
  6. Darren Grant & Michael Toma, 2008. "Elemental tests of the traditional rational voting model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 137(1), pages 173-195, October.
  7. Aaron Edlin & Andrew Gelman & Noah Kaplan, 2007. "Voting as a Rational Choice: Why and How People Vote to Improve the Well-Being of Others," NBER Working Papers 13562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Andrew Gelman & Nate Silver & Aaron Edlin, 2009. "What is the probability your vote will make a difference?," NBER Working Papers 15220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Gani Aldashev, 2013. "Voter Turnout and Political Rents," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 294, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  10. Andrew Leigh, 2004. "Does the World Economy Swing National Elections?," CEPR Discussion Papers 485, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

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