The Performance of the Pivotal-Voter Model in Small-scale elections: Evidence from Texas Liquor Referenda


by Stephen Coate, Michael Conlin, and Andrea Moro.
Journal of Public Economics 92(4), April 2008, 582-96 : Pdf
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 Texas liquor referendum data. It then uses the estimates to evaluate both the within and out-of-sample performance of the model. Results show that the model is capable of predicting turnout in the data fairly well, but tends, on average, to predict electoral outcomes that are closer to what we observe in the data. A comparison with the results obtained from an alternative model with non strategic voters based on expressive voting shows that the alternative model performs better in predicting electoral outcomes.

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