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Last Minute Policies and the Incumbency Advantage

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  • Elena Manzoni
  • Stefan P. Penczynski

Abstract

This paper models a purely informational mechanism behind the incumbency advantage. In a two-period electoral campaign with two policy issues, a specialized incumbent and an unspecialized, but possibly more competent challenger compete for election by voters who are heterogeneously informed about the state of the world. Due to the asymmetries in government responsibility between candidates, the incumbent's statements may convey information on the relevance of the issues to voters. In equilibrium, the incumbent sometimes strategically releases his statement early and thus signals the importance of his signature issue to the voters. This gives rise to the incumbency advantage. We find that, since the incumbent’s positioning on the issue reveals private information which the challenger can use in later statements, the incumbent's incentives to distort the campaign are decreasing in the quality of the incumbent, as previously documented by the empirical literature. However, we show that this implies a non-monotonicity in the distortions that arise in equilibrium.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3773.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3773

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Related research

Keywords: incumbency advantage; electoral competition; information revelation;

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  1. Toke Aidt & Francisco Veiga & Linda Veiga, 2011. "Election results and opportunistic policies: A new test of the rational political business cycle model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(1), pages 21-44, July.
  2. Hodler, Roland & Loertscher, Simon & Rohner, Dominic, 2010. "Inefficient policies and incumbency advantage," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 761-767, October.
  3. Arnaud Dellis, 2009. "The Salient Issue of Issue Salience," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 11(2), pages 203-231, 04.
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