NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Ishaana Talesara

University of Texas at Austin
Department of Economics
2225 Speedway, Stop C3100
Austin, TX 78714

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: University of Texas at Austin

NBER Working Papers and Publications

September 2019Inversions in US Presidential Elections: 1836-2016
with Michael Geruso, Dean Spears: w26247
Inversions—in which the popular vote winner loses the election—have occurred in four US presidential races. We show that rather than being statistical flukes, inversions have been ex ante likely since the early 1800s. In elections yielding a popular vote margin within one point (one-eighth of presidential elections), about 40% will be inversions in expectation. We show this conditional probability is remarkably stable across historical periods—despite differences in which groups voted, which states existed, and which parties participated. Our findings imply that the US has experienced so few inversions merely because there have been so few elections (and fewer close elections).
 
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