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U.S Presidential Elections and the Referendum Paradox


  • Fabrice Barthelemy

    () (THEMA, Universite de Cergy-Pontoise)

  • Mathieu Martin

    () (THEMA, Universite de Cergy-Pontoise)

  • Ashley Piggins

    () (Galway, ireland, University Road.)


In the United States, the president is elected by the Electoral College (EC) and not directly by individual voters. This can give rise to a so-called referendum paradox in which one candidate receives more popular votes than any other, but this candidate is not elected. The 2000 election is an example of this phenomenon. Can the EC be reformed so that a referendum paradox never arises? We consider vary- ing three natural parameters. First, we consider changing the method of apportioning seats in the House of Representatives to states. Second, we consider changing the total number of seats in the House. Intuition suggests that as the number of seats approaches the number

Suggested Citation

  • Fabrice Barthelemy & Mathieu Martin & Ashley Piggins, 2011. "U.S Presidential Elections and the Referendum Paradox," THEMA Working Papers 2011-15, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  • Handle: RePEc:ema:worpap:2011-15

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hannu Nurmi, 1998. "Voting paradoxes and referenda," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 15(3), pages 333-350.
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