On The Validity Of The Regression Discontinuity Design For Estimating Electoral Effects: New Evidence From Over 40000 Close Races

37 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2013

See all articles by Andrew C. Eggers

Andrew C. Eggers

University of Oxford

Olle Folke

Uppsala University - Department of Government

Anthony Fowler

University of Chicago - Harris Public Policy

Jens Hainmueller

Stanford University - Department of Political Science; Stanford Graduate School of Business; Stanford Immigration Policy Lab

Andrew Hall

Stanford University

James M. Snyder

Harvard University

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

Many papers use regression discontinuity (RD) designs that exploit close election outcomes in order to identify the effects of election results on various political and economic outcomes of interest. Several recent papers critique the use of RD designs based on close elections because of the potential for imbalance near the threshold that distinguishes winners from losers. In particular, for U.S. House elections during the post-war period, lagged variables such as incumbency status and previous vote share are significantly correlated with victory even in very close elections. This type of sorting naturally raises doubts about the key RD assumption that the assignment of treatment around the threshold is quasi-random. In this paper, we examine whether similar sorting occurs in other electoral settings, including the U.S. House in other time periods, statewide, state legislative, and mayoral races in the U.S., and national and/or local elections in a variety of other countries, including the U.K., Canada, Germany, France, Australia, India, and Brazil. No other case exhibits sorting. Evidently, the U.S. House during the post-war period is an anomaly.

Keywords: elections, regression discontinuity, causal inference

JEL Classification: C00, C01, C10, D70, D72, D78

Suggested Citation

Eggers, Andrew C. and Folke, Olle and Fowler, Anthony and Hainmueller, Jens and Hall, Andrew and Snyder, James M., On The Validity Of The Regression Discontinuity Design For Estimating Electoral Effects: New Evidence From Over 40000 Close Races (2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper; American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2303487

Andrew C. Eggers

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Olle Folke

Uppsala University - Department of Government ( email )

Scheelev├Ągen 15 D
SE-223 70
Lund
Sweden

Anthony Fowler (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Harris Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Jens Hainmueller

Stanford University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~jhain/

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Stanford Immigration Policy Lab

30 Alta Road
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Andrew Hall

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

James M. Snyder

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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