NBER Working Papers and Publications
|September 1999||Congressional Vote Options|
with Richard J. Zeckhauser: w7342
Among political practitioners, there is conventional wisdom about the outcomes of critical and salient legislative votes. 'This vote,' we hear, ' will either win by a little or lose by a lot.' Real-world examples suggest coalition leaders purchase 'hip-pocket' votes and "if you need me" pledges, which are converted to favorable votes when they will yield a victory. When the outcome is uncertain, such a process -- securing commitments in advance and calling them in if necessary -- is advantageous relative to traditional vote buying. Excess votes are not bought, nor are votes purchased for a losing effort. In effect, the leader secures options on votes. Given uncertainty, buying vote options yields two outcomes in conceivably winnable situations, one a narrow victory, the other a substa...
Published: King, David C. and Richard J. Zeckhauser. "Congressional Vote Options." Legislative Studies Quarterly 28, 3 (August 2003): 387-411.