The Empirical Frequency of a Pivotal Vote


Some economic theories of voting suggestthat competition leads to close elections,and that election closeness is a factor forbringing voters to the polls. How often infact are civic elections decided by onevote? One of every 89,000 votes cast inU.S. Congressional elections, and one of15,000 in state legislator elections, ``mattered'' in thesense that they were castfor a candidate that tied or won by onevote. We find an inverse relationshipbetween election size and the frequency ofone vote margins. Recounts, and othermargin-specific election procedures, aredeterminants of the pivotal vote frequency.

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Mulligan, C.B., Hunter, C.G. The Empirical Frequency of a Pivotal Vote. Public Choice 116, 31–54 (2003).

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  • Economic Theory
  • Public Finance
  • State Legislator
  • Election Procedure
  • Congressional Election