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By-Elections, Changing Fortunes, Uncertainty and the Mid-Term Blues

Simon Price and David Sanders
Public Choice
Vol. 95, No. 1/2 (1998), pp. 131-148
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30024364
Page Count: 18
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By-Elections, Changing Fortunes, Uncertainty and the Mid-Term Blues
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Abstract

If voters care about the size of the government's majority, then by-election votes should exaggerate national swings. Moreover, if there is uncertainty about the outcome of the general election and if voters" preferences are skewed in such a way as to give more weight to the "downside" outcome (least favourite party wins) than the "upside" (favoured party wins with a larger than preferred majority), then there will be a systematic tendency for governments to lose by-elections, regardless of any changes in national support. These predictions go beyond those generated by conventional explanations. The theory is successfully tested against data from 383 post-War elections.

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