Primary Runoff Elections in the United States

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2021-04-01

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Currently, ten states allow for runoff primaries. Do these second elections change electoral outcomes? Engstrom and Engstrom (2008) collected and analyzed data from 1980-2002 and found that leader loss -- when the original second-place finisher ends up winning -- occurred in one-third of runoff elections. In this project, I reexamine this finding by collecting data from 1998-2018. I find a similar rate of leader loss and uncover certain patterns about which factors make it most likely. The data I collected can also be used to address questions about whether runoff elections are even useful in the modern times.

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