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Race and the Politics of Close Elections

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  • Tom Vogl
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    Abstract

    Elections between black and white candidates tend to involve close margins and high turnout. Using a novel dataset of municipal vote returns during the rise of black mayors in U.S. cities, this paper establishes new facts about turnout and competition in close interracial elections. In the South, but not the North, close black victories were more likely than close black losses, involved higher turnout than close black losses, and were more likely than close black losses to be followed by subsequent black victories. These results are consistent with a model in which the historical exclusion of Southern blacks from politics made them disproportionately sensitive to mobilization efforts by political elites, leading to a black candidate advantage in close elections. The results contribute to a growing body of evidence that the outcomes of reasonably close elections are not always random, which suggests that detailed knowledge of the electoral context is a precondition to regression discontinuity analyses based on vote shares.

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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18320.

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    Date of creation: Aug 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18320

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    1. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
    2. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
    3. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2007. "Bootstrap-Based Improvements for Inference with Clustered Errors," NBER Technical Working Papers 0344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Patrick Bayer & Fernando Ferreira & Robert McMillan, 2007. "A Unified Framework for Measuring Preferences for Schools and Neighborhoods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(4), pages 588-638, 08.
    5. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," NBER Working Papers 14723, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Imbens, Guido W. & Kalyanaraman, Karthik, 2009. "Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator," IZA Discussion Papers 3995, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Fernando Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko, 2009. "Do Political Parties Matter? Evidence from U.S. Cities-super-," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(1), pages 399-422, February.
    8. David S. Lee & Enrico Moretti & Matthew J. Butler, 2004. "Do Voters Affect Or Elect Policies? Evidence from the U. S. House," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 807-859, August.
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    Cited by:
    1. Brollo, Fernanda & Troiano, Ugo, 2013. "What Happens When a Woman Wins an Election? Evidence from Close Races in Brazil," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 161, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. repec:cge:warwcg:160 is not listed on IDEAS

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