We thank an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments and the National Science Foundation for financial support.
WHAT IS THE PROBABILITY YOUR VOTE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Article first published online: 19 MAR 2010
© 2010 Western Economic Association International
Volume 50, Issue 2, pages 321–326, April 2012
How to Cite
GELMAN, A., SILVER, N. and EDLIN, A. (2012), WHAT IS THE PROBABILITY YOUR VOTE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE?. Economic Inquiry, 50: 321–326. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-7295.2010.00272.x
- Issue published online: 19 MAR 2010
- Article first published online: 19 MAR 2010
- Online Early publication March 19, 2010
One of the motivations for voting is that one vote can make a difference. In a presidential election, the probability that your vote is decisive is equal to the probability that your state is necessary for an electoral college win, times the probability the vote in your state is tied in that event. We computed these probabilities a week before the 2008 presidential election, using state-by-state election forecasts based on the latest polls. The states where a single vote was most likely to matter are New Mexico, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Colorado, where your vote had an approximate 1 in 10 million chance of determining the national election outcome. On average, a voter in America had a 1 in 60 million chance of being decisive in the presidential election. (JEL H0)