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The Performance of the Pivotal-Voter Model in Small-Scale Elections: Evidence from Texas Liquor Referenda

  • Stephen Coate
  • Michael Conlin
  • Andrea Moro

How well does the pivotal-voter model explain voter participation in small-scale elections? This paper explores this question using data from Texas liquor referenda. It first structurally estimates the parameters of a pivotal-voter model using the Texas data. It then uses the estimates to evaluate both the within and out-of-sample performance of the model. The analysis shows that the model is capable of predicting turnout in the data fairly well, but tends, on average, to predict closer electoral outcomes than are observed in the data. This difficulty allows the pivotal-voter model to be outperformed by a simple alternative model based on the idea of expressive voting.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10797.

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Date of creation: Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10797
Note: PE
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  1. Goffe, William L & Ferrier, Gary D & Rogers, John, 1992. "Simulated Annealing: An Initial Application in Econometrics," Computer Science in Economics & Management, Society for Computational Economics, vol. 5(2), pages 133-46, May.
  2. Ghosal, Sayantan & Lockwood, Ben, 2003. "Information Aggregation, Costly Voting And Common Values," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 670, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. Stephen Coate & Michael Conlin, 2004. "A Group Rule–Utilitarian Approach to Voter Turnout: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1476-1504, December.
  4. Timothy J. Feddersen, 2004. "Rational Choice Theory and the Paradox of Not Voting," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 99-112, Winter.
  5. Tilman Börgers, 2001. "Costly Voting," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 625018000000000232,
  6. Colin M. Campbell, 1999. "Large Electorates and Decisive Minorities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1199-1217, December.
  7. Vuong, Quang H, 1989. "Likelihood Ratio Tests for Model Selection and Non-nested Hypotheses," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 307-33, March.
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