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Information and Extremism in Elections

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  • Raphael Boleslavsky
  • Christopher Cotton

Abstract

We model an election in which parties nominate candidates with observable policy preferences prior to a campaign that produces information about candidate quality, a characteristic independent of policy. Informative campaigns lead to greater differentiation in expected candidate quality, which undermines policy competition. In equilibrium, as campaigns become more informative, candidates become more extreme. We identify conditions under which the costs associated with extremism dominate the benefits of campaign information. Informative political campaigns increase political extremism and can decrease voter welfare. Our results have implications for media coverage, the number of debates, and campaign finance reform. (JEL D72, D83)

Suggested Citation

  • Raphael Boleslavsky & Christopher Cotton, 2015. "Information and Extremism in Elections," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 165-207, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:7:y:2015:i:1:p:165-207
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.20130006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Nicolas Motz, 2019. "Who emerges from smoke-filled rooms? Political parties and candidate selection," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 52(1), pages 161-196, January.
    2. Marina Dodlova & Galina Zudenkova, 2016. "Incumbents' Performance and Political Polarization," CESifo Working Paper Series 5728, CESifo.
    3. Cheng Li & Christopher Cotton, 2016. "Clueless Politicians," Working Paper 1341, Economics Department, Queen's University.
    4. Archishman Chakraborty & Parikshit Ghosh, 2016. "Character Endorsements and Electoral Competition," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 277-310, May.
    5. Shadmehr, Mehdi, 2015. "Extremism in revolutionary movements," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 97-121.
    6. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Kalyan Chatterjee & Jaideep Roy, 2020. "Extremist Platforms: Political Consequences Of Profit‐Seeking Media," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 61(3), pages 1173-1193, August.
    7. Karakas, Leyla D. & Mitra, Devashish, 2020. "Inequality, redistribution and the rise of outsider candidates," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 1-16.
    8. Andreottola, Giovanni, 2021. "Signaling valence in primary elections," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 1-32.
    9. Alonso, Ricardo & Câmara, Odilon, 2016. "Political disagreement and information in elections," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 390-412.
    10. Vaccari, Federico, 2020. "Influential News and Policy-making," MPRA Paper 100464, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Câmara, Odilon & Bernhardt, Dan, 2015. "Learning about challengers," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 181-206.
    12. Antoniades, Alexis & Calomiris, Charles W., 2020. "Mortgage market credit conditions and U.S. Presidential elections," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    13. Giovanni Andreottola, 2020. "Signaling Valence in Primary Elections," CSEF Working Papers 559, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    14. Mizuno, Nobuhiro & Okazawa, Ryosuke, 2018. "Why do voters elect less qualified candidates?," MPRA Paper 89215, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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