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Electoral Competition through Issue Selection

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  • Micael Castanheira De Moura
  • Marco Giani
  • Enriqueta Aragonès

Abstract

Politics must tackle multiple issues at once. In a first-best world, political competition constrains parties to prioritize issues according to the voters' true concerns. In the real world, the opposite also happens: parties manipulate voter priorities by emphasizing issues selectively during the political campaign. This phenomenon, known as priming, should allow parties to pay less attention to the issues that they intend to mute. We develop a model of endogenous issue ownership in which two vote-seeking parties (i) invest to attract voters with "better" policy proposals and (ii) choose a communication campaign to focus voter attention on specific issues. We identify novel feedbacks between communication and investment. In particular, we find that stronger priming effects can backfire by constraining parties to invest more resources in all issues, including the ones they would otherwise intend to mute. We also identify under which conditions parties prefer to focus on their "historical issues" or to engage in issue stealing. Typically, the latter happens when priming effects are strong, and historical reputations differentiates parties less.

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Paper provided by ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles in its series ULB Institutional Repository with number 2013/159851.

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Date of creation: 17 Apr 2014
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Publication status: Forthcoming
Handle: RePEc:ulb:ulbeco:2013/159851

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  1. Enriqueta Aragones & Santiago Sanchez-Pages, 2010. "The disadvantage of winning an election," ESE Discussion Papers 194, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  2. Josep Colomer & Humberto Llavador, 2012. "An agenda-setting model of electoral competition," SERIEs, Spanish Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 73-93, March.
  3. AMOROS, Pablo & PUY, M. Socorro, 2007. "Dialogue or issue divergence in the political campaign?," CORE Discussion Papers 2007084, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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Cited by:
  1. Prato, Carlo & Wolton, Stephane, 2014. "The Voters' Curses: The Upsides and Downsides of Political Engagement," MPRA Paper 53482, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Denter, Philipp, 2013. "A theory of communication in political campaigns," Economics Working Paper Series 1302, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.

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