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 4 US Presidential elections. We show that rather than being statistical flukes, inversions have been ex ante likely since the 1800s. In elections yielding a popular vote margin within one percentage point (which has happened in one-eighth of Presidential elections), 40% will be inversions in expectation. Inversion probabilities are asymmetric, in various periods favoring Whigs, Democrats, or Republicans. Feasible policy changes—including awarding each state’s Electoral College ballots proportionally between parties rather than awarding all to the state winner—could substantially reduce inversion probabilities, though not in close elections.

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