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NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Claire Lim

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September 2012Elections and the Quality of Public Officials: Evidence from U.S. State Courts
with James M. Snyder, Jr.: w18355
We investigate the influence of electoral rules and voter information in elections on voting outcomes and the quality of public officials, using new data on state court judge elections in 39 states in the U.S. from 1990 to 2010. We find, first, that voting is very partisan in partisan judicial elections – i.e., there is a strong correlation between the Democratic "normal vote'' and the Democratic vote share for judges – but not in non-partisan or non-competitive "retention'' elections. This partisan voting behavior cannot be attributed to clear differences between Democratic and Republican judges in their sentencing decisions, since such differences, if any, are small and not consistent. Second, we find that incumbent judges' quality has little effect on their vote share or probability of ...

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