Strategic Choices in Election Campaigns: Measuring the Vice-Presidential Home State Advantage with Synthetic Controls

Posted: 12 Jul 2014 Last revised: 5 Oct 2017

See all articles by Boris Heersink

Boris Heersink

University of Virginia - Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics

Brenton Peterson

University of Virginia (UVA), Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics, Students; Strathmore University

Date Written: August 10, 2014

Abstract

Political actors make strategic choices during campaigns with the hope of winning elections. However, researchers face difficulties measuring the effect of such choices since this requires knowledge of the outcome under a counterfactual that is not observed in practice. In this article we extend the synthetic control approach for causal inference to circumstances with multiple treated cases and use it to estimate the effect of vice-presidential candidates on their home states’ vote totals. The results from elections spanning 1884-2012, and a systematic review of cases where our estimates run counter to prior studies, suggest that vice-presidential candidates increase their tickets’ performance in their home states by 2.78 percentage points on average. Contrary to past findings, we show that the choice of running mates can influence electoral outcomes in their home states and potentially swing entire presidential elections.

Keywords: Elections and Campaigns, Presidential Elections, American Politics, Synthetic Control Method, Matching

Suggested Citation

Heersink, Boris and Peterson, Brenton, Strategic Choices in Election Campaigns: Measuring the Vice-Presidential Home State Advantage with Synthetic Controls (August 10, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2464979 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2464979

Boris Heersink (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics ( email )

PO Box 400787
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904
United States

Brenton Peterson

University of Virginia (UVA), Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics, Students ( email )

PO Box 400787
Charlottesville, VA 22904
United States

Strathmore University ( email )

Nairobi
Kenya

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