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Playing for Your Own Audience: Extremism in Two‐Party Elections

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  • GÁBOR VIRÁG

Abstract

This paper considers a two‐party election with a single‐dimensional policy space. We assume that each voter has a higher probability of observing the position of the party he is affiliated with than the position of the other party, an assumption that is consistent with the National Election Studies (NES) electoral data set. In equilibrium, the two parties locate away from the median, because the voters who dislike a party's platform observe its policy choice with a lower probability, and its own audience like policy choices that cater to its taste. As the asymmetry in voter information or the cost of voting increases, the parties adopt more extreme platforms, while if there are fewer extreme voters the opposite effect occurs. Making voters more symmetrically informed about the two parties' platforms increases the welfare of society, while asymmetric information acquisition by the voters is worse than no information acquisition at all.

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  • Gábor Virág, 2008. "Playing for Your Own Audience: Extremism in Two‐Party Elections," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 10(5), pages 891-922, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:10:y:2008:i:5:p:891-922
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9779.2008.00391.x
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    Cited by:

    1. John Duggan & César Martinelli, 2008. "The Role of Media Slant in Elections and Economics," Wallis Working Papers WP54, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
    2. Benjamin Ogden, 2017. "The Imperfect Beliefs Voting Model," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2017-20, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. John Duggan & Cesar Martinelli, 2008. "Rational Expectations and Media Slant," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001844, UCLA Department of Economics.
    4. Shadmehr, Mehdi, 2015. "Extremism in revolutionary movements," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 97-121.

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    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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