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The pronouncements of paranoid politicians

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  • Guido, Cataife

Abstract

This paper models the strategic encounter of two office-motivated candidates who may or may not announce policy. In the case of no announcement, the voters rank the candidates according to prior beliefs. In the case of announcement, the candidates cannot avoid a degree of noise in the voters' interpretation of their announcements. We show that this simple deviation from the standard Downsian setting suffices to overcome previous impossibility results which suggest that not announcing policy can never occur in equilibrium. Also, we extend the model to study the equilibrium when candidates are ambiguity averse. An ambiguity averse candidate is interpreted as being concerned about an ongoing negative campaign against him. This negative campaign would consist in inducing the voters to adopt some interpretation of the candidate's announcement unfavorable to his electoral performance. We show that under ambiguity aversion the candidates opt not to announce position under less stringent conditions than expected utility. Finally, we use data on U.S. Senate elections to test an empirical implication of the model. We find that the relevant coefficient has the sign predicted by the theory and is statistically significant.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 4473.

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Date of creation: 10 Aug 2007
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:4473

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Keywords: Voting; Salience; Electoral Ambiguity; Ambiguity Aversion; Media Politics;

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  1. Marcus Berliant & Hideo Konishi, 2005. "Salience: Agenda choices by competing candidates," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 125(1), pages 129-149, July.
  2. Cramer,J. S., 2011. "Logit Models from Economics and Other Fields," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521188036.
  3. Morelli, Massimo, 1998. "Party Formation and Policy Outcomes Under Different Electoral Systems," Staff General Research Papers 1242, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. Enriqueta Aragones & Zvika Neeman, 1994. "Strategic Ambiguity in Electoral Competition," Discussion Papers 1083, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Osborne, Martin J., 2000. "Entry-deterring policy differentiation by electoral candidates," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 41-62, July.
  6. Gilboa Itzhak & Schmeidler David, 1993. "Updating Ambiguous Beliefs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 33-49, February.
  7. Enriqueta Aragonès & Thomas Palfrey & Andrew Postlewaite, 2007. "Political Reputations and Campaign Promises," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(4), pages 846-884, 06.
  8. Larry G. Epstein & Martin Schneider, 2001. "Recursive Multiple-Priors," RCER Working Papers 485, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  9. Maccheroni, Fabio & Marinacci, Massimo & Rustichini, Aldo, 2006. "Dynamic variational preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 128(1), pages 4-44, May.
  10. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "Media Bias and Reputation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 280-316, April.
  11. McKelvey, Richard D. & Patty, John W., 2006. "A theory of voting in large elections," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 155-180, October.
  12. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
  13. Adams, James, 1999. " Multiparty Spatial Competition with Probabilistic Voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(3-4), pages 259-74, June.
  14. Enriqueta Aragonés & Andrew Postlewaite, 1999. "Ambiguity in election games," Economics Working Papers 364, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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