IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Swing States, The Winner-Take-All Electoral College, and Fiscal Federalism


  • Duquette, Christopher
  • Mixon, Franklin
  • Cebula, Richard


There is a debate regarding the impact of swing or independent voters in American politics. While some argue that swing voters either do not swing or have a marginal impact on campaigns, the decline in voter partisan identification and the rise of independents means that they have a potential impact on elections, making them a desirable commodity to candidates. Additionally, presidential elections represent a unique case for swing voters. A robust literature notes that during the presidential primary and caucus process, voters in states such as Iowa or New Hampshire effectively have a greater voice in the election than those in other states. This is due to the number of voters in these states, and the strategic importance of having their primaries and caucuses positioned at the beginning of the presidential selection process. Additionally, the Electoral College is criticized as giving disproportionate influence to some voters or states, or as otherwise distorting the results in presidential elections because of its winner-take-all method of allocating votes in 48 or the 50 states. But these assertions notwithstanding, can the impact or distortion that swing-voters have in some states compared to others, in terms of their relative influence on presidential elections, be quantified? Relatedly, does the Electoral College distort the impact of swing voters? This study presents a new method to assess the impact of swing voters within the winner-take-all method that states use to allocate electoral votes. By looking at several recent U.S. presidential elections, we quantify how the winner-take-all method of allocating electoral votes produces disparities in the voting power of citizens across states.

Suggested Citation

  • Duquette, Christopher & Mixon, Franklin & Cebula, Richard, 2013. "Swing States, The Winner-Take-All Electoral College, and Fiscal Federalism," MPRA Paper 55423, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:55423

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wright, Gavin, 1974. "The Political Economy of New Deal Spending: An Econometric Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(1), pages 30-38, February.
    2. Richard Cebula & Dennis Murphy, 1984. "The Electoral College and voter participation rates: Reply," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 101-102, January.
    3. Richard Cebula, 2001. "The electoral college and voter participation: Evidence on two hypotheses," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 29(3), pages 304-310, September.
    4. Richard Cebula & Dennis Murphy, 1980. "The Electoral College and voter participation rates: An exploratory note," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 185-190, January.
    5. Richard J. Cebula & Christopher M. Duquette & Franklin G. Mixon, 2013. "Battleground states and voter participation in US presidential elections: an empirical test," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(26), pages 3795-3799, September.
    6. Cebula, Richard, 1996. "An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Government Tax and Auditing Policies on the Size of the Underground Economy: The Case of the United States, 1973-94," MPRA Paper 49810, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Grier, Kevin B & McDonald, Michael & Tollison, Robert D, 1995. "Electoral Politics and the Executive Veto: A Predictive Theory," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 427-440, July.
    8. repec:cup:apsrev:v:68:y:1974:i:01:p:113-134_23 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Franklin Mixon & J. Matthew Tyrone, 2004. "The 'Home Grown' Presidency: empirical evidence on localism in presidential voting, 1972-2000," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(16), pages 1745-1749.
    10. Posner, Richard A, 1975. "The Social Costs of Monopoly and Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 807-827, August.
    11. Krueger, Anne O, 1974. "The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 291-303, June.
    12. FG Mixon Jr & DL Hobson, 2001. "Intergovernmental Grants And The Positioning Of Presidential Primaries And Caucuses: Empirical Evidence From The 1992, 1996, And 2000 Election Cycles," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 19(1), pages 27-38, January.
    13. Anderson, Gary M & Tollison, Robert D, 1991. "Congressional Influence and Patterns of New Deal Spending, 1933-1939," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 161-175, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Electoral College; voting power;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:55423. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.