Special Elections to the U.S. House of Representatives: A General Election Barometer?



Vacancies in the U.S. House of Representatives are filled using special elections. These elections occur off the usual American electoral cycle, and their results are routinely portrayed by the American mass media as indications of what to expect in the next general election. We examined the predictive power of special elections results with respect to the general election outcomes for the U.S. House of Representatives from 1900 to 2008. We found that special elections that yield a change in partisan control do have predictive power regarding general election results.