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

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

Abstract

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
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    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)

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