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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

NBER Working Paper No. 10797
Issued in September 2004
NBER Program(s):Public Economics

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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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10797

Published: Stephen Coate & Michael Conlin & Andrea Moro, 2008. "The performance of pivotal-voter models in small-scale elections: Evidence from Texas liquor referenda," Journal of Public Economics, vol 92(3-4), pages 582-596.

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