Inversions—in which the popular vote winner loses the election—have occurred in four US presidential races. We show that rather than being statistical flukes, inversions have been ex ante likely since the early 1800s. In elections yielding a popular vote margin within 1 point (one-eighth of presidential elections), about 40 percent will be inversions in expectation. We show this conditional probability is remarkably stable across historical periods—despite differences in which groups voted, which states existed, and which parties participated. Our findings imply that the United States has experienced so few inversions merely because there have been so few elections (and fewer close elections).
Geruso, Michael, Dean Spears, and Ishaana Talesara.
"Inversions in US Presidential Elections: 1836–2016."
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics,
Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
Economic History: Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation: U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
Economic History: Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation: U.S.; Canada: 1913-