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By-elections, changing fortunes, uncertainty and the mid-term blues

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  • Simon Price
  • David Sanders

Abstract

If voters care about the size of the government's majority, then by-election votes should exaggerate national swings. Moreover, if there is uncertainty about the outcome of the general election and if voters” preferences are skewed in such a way as to give more weight to the “downside” outcome (least favourite party wins) than the “upside” (favoured party wins with a larger than preferred majority), then there will be a systematic tendency for governments to lose by-elections, regardless of any changes in national support. These predictions go beyond those generated by conventional explanations. The theory is successfully tested against data from 383 post-War elections. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Price & David Sanders, 1998. "By-elections, changing fortunes, uncertainty and the mid-term blues," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 131-148, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:95:y:1998:i:1:p:131-148
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1004983108916
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nannestad, Peter & Paldam, Martin, 1994. "The VP-Function: A Survey of the Literature on Vote and Popularity Functions after 25 Years," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 79(3-4), pages 213-245, June.
    2. Backus, David & Driffill, John, 1985. "Inflation and Reputation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 530-538, June.
    3. Paldam, Martin, 1986. "The distribution of election results and the two explanations of the cost of ruling," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 5-24.
    4. Paldam, Martin & Skott, Peter, 1995. "A Rational-Voter Explanation of the Cost of Ruling," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 83(1-2), pages 159-172, April.
    5. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Hodgson & John Maloney, 2010. "Economic Voting in Britain, 1857-1914," Discussion Papers 1009, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
    2. repec:kap:pubcho:v:171:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0438-8 is not listed on IDEAS

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