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Bajpai, Rochana and Saez, Lawrence (2022) 'Winning big: The political logic of winning elections with large margins in India.' India Review, 21 (1). pp. 21-52.

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Politicians winning elections with large margins of victory, beyond what is necessary to win electoral contests,what we term “winning big”, is a common, yet under-studied phenomenon across the world. Political economy models suggest that winning big is not an optimal allocation of scarce campaign resources in a SMP/FPTP electoral system. Inductive inquiry shows that incumbent politicians likely to win nevertheless campaign hard, often devoting considerable effort and resources, for reasons that remain unexamined. Focusing on India, this article explores a range of reasons that can help explain this phenomenon through an innovative research design that combines quantitative analysis with in-depth elite interviews with incumbent MPs from 10 states. We distinguish the phenomenon of “winning big” from that of “safe” seats,identify and probe factors that can contribute to large margins, including candidate strategy, party popularity, mobilizers, electoral uncertainty, and party control . Our findings suggest that while political parties in India, as elsewhere, do not spend more money on electoral contests that they likely to win comfortably, winning big can be the result, among other factors, of a party strategy to establish a reputation for invincibility, and/or individual efforts, stemming from a sense of political vulnerability felt by politicians, underestimated in the literature on safe seats.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Political Science and International Relations, Sociology and Political Science
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
ISSN: 14736489
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 31 May 2022 10:42
Funders: Leverhulme Trust

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