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The probability of conflicts in a U.S. presidential type election

  • Marc Feix
  • Dominique Lepelley

    ()

  • Vincent Merlin

    ()

  • Jean-Louis Rouet

    ()

In a two candidate election, it might be that a candidate wins in a majority of districts while he gets less vote than his opponent in the whole country. In Social Choice Theory, this situation is known as the compound majority paradox, or the referendum paradox. Although occurrences of such paradoxical results have been observed worldwide in political elections (e.g. United States, United Kingdom, France), no study evaluates theoretically the likelihood of such situations. In this paper, we propose four probability models in order to tackle this issue, for the case where each district has the same population. For a divided electorate, our results prove that the likelihood of this paradox rapidly tends to 20% when the number of districts increases. This probability decreases with the number of states when a candidate receives significatively more vote than his opponent over the whole country. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin/Heidelberg 2004

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00199-003-0375-2
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 23 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (January)
Pages: 227-257

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Handle: RePEc:spr:joecth:v:23:y:2004:i:2:p:227-257
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