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Turnout and Closeness: Evidence from 60 Years of Bavarian Mayoral Elections

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  • Felix Arnold

Abstract

One prediction of the calculus of voting is that electoral closeness positively affects turnout via a higher probability of one vote being decisive. I test this theory with data on all mayoral elections in the German state of Bavaria between 1946 and 2009. Importantly, I use constitutionally prescribed two‐round elections to measure electoral closeness and thereby improve on existing work that mostly uses ex post measures that are prone to endogeneity. The results suggest that electoral closeness matters: a one standard deviation increase in closeness increases turnout by 1.27 percentage points, which corresponds to 1/7 of a standard deviation in this variable. I also evaluate how other factors such as electorate size or rain on election day affect turnout differentially depending on the closeness of the race. While rain decreases turnout on average, this effect is mitigated in close elections, as indicated by a positive interaction effect of the two variables.

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  • Felix Arnold, 2018. "Turnout and Closeness: Evidence from 60 Years of Bavarian Mayoral Elections," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 120(2), pages 624-653, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:scandj:v:120:y:2018:i:2:p:624-653
    DOI: 10.1111/sjoe.12241
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    Cited by:

    1. Marco Frank & David Stadelmann & Benno Torgler, 2020. "Electoral Turnout During States of Emergency and Effects on Incumbent Vote Share," CREMA Working Paper Series 2020-10, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    2. De Benedetto, Marco Alberto & De Paola, Maria, 2019. "Term limit extension and electoral participation. Evidence from a diff-in-discontinuities design at the local level in Italy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 196-211.
    3. Konstantinou, Panagiotis Th. & Panagiotidis, Theodore & Roumanias, Costas, 2021. "State-dependent effect on voter turnout: The case of US House elections," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 753-765.
    4. Lyytikäinen, Teemu & Tukiainen, Janne, 2019. "Are voters rational?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 230-242.
    5. Lind, Jo Thori, 2020. "Rainy day politics. An instrumental variables approach to the effect of parties on political outcomes," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C).
    6. Alberto Grillo, 2020. "Ethical Voting in Heterogenous Groups," Working Papers halshs-02962464, HAL.
    7. Alberto Grillo, 2020. "Ethical Voting in Heterogenous Groups," AMSE Working Papers 2034, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France, revised Apr 2021.

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