Electoral Contestation: A Comprehensive Polity-Level Analysis
The study of electoral contestation generally focuses on districts or regions rather than polities. We present a new dataset that measures electoral contestation through historical records of elections in sovereign and semi-sovereign polities throughout the world from 1789 to the present. We also offer a new index of contestation intended to capture multiple dimensions of this complex concept. Our second objective is to explain variation across polities and through time in electoral contestation. We argue that the degree of contestation in a polity is affected by demography, with larger polities fostering greater electoral contestation. This hypothesis is tested with a series of cross-national regression tests that employ a variety of specifications and estimators – crosssectional, fixed-effect, and instrumental variable. We find a robust association between population and contestation extending throughout the modern era.