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The Effect of Candidate Quality on Electoral Equilibrium: An Experimental Study

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  • ARAGONES, ENRIQUETA
  • PALFREY, THOMAS R.

Abstract

When two candidates of different quality compete in a one-dimensional policy space, the equilibrium outcomes are asymmetric and do not correspond to the median. There are three main effects. First, the better candidate adopts more centrist policies than the worse candidate. Second, the equilibrium is statistical, in the sense that it predicts a probability distribution of outcomes rather than a single degenerate outcome. Third, the equilibrium varies systematically with the level of uncertainty about the location of the median voter. We test these three predictions using laboratory experiments and find strong support for all three. We also observe some biases and show that they can be explained by quantal response equilibrium.

Suggested Citation

  • Aragones, Enriqueta & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2004. "The Effect of Candidate Quality on Electoral Equilibrium: An Experimental Study," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 98(1), pages 77-90, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:98:y:2004:i:01:p:77-90_00
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    Cited by:

    1. Drouvelis, Michalis & Saporiti, Alejandro & Vriend, Nicolaas J., 2014. "Political motivations and electoral competition: Equilibrium analysis and experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 86-115.
    2. Dimitrios Xefteris, 2018. "Candidate valence in a spatial model with entry," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 176(3), pages 341-359, September.
    3. Alexander Shapoval & Shlomo Weber & Alexei Zakharov, 2019. "Valence influence in electoral competition with rank objectives," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 48(3), pages 713-753, September.
    4. Aragonès, Enriqueta & Xefteris, Dimitrios, 2012. "Candidate quality in a Downsian model with a continuous policy space," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 464-480.
    5. Sebastian Galiani & Cheryl Long & Camila Navajas Ahumada & Gustavo Torrens, 2019. "Horizontal and Vertical Conflict: Experimental Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 72(2), pages 239-269, May.
    6. Tsakas, Nikolas & Xefteris, Dimitrios, 2018. "Electoral competition with third party entry in the lab," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 121-134.
    7. Xefteris, Dimitrios, 2013. "Equilibrium in a discrete Downsian model given a non-minimal valence advantage and linear loss functions," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 150-153.
    8. Dimitrios Xefteris, 2014. "Mixed equilibriums in a three-candidate spatial model with candidate valence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 158(1), pages 101-120, January.
    9. Hummel, Patrick, 2010. "On the nature of equilibria in a Downsian model with candidate valence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 425-445, November.
    10. Walter J. Stone & Elizabeth N. Simas, 2010. "Candidate Valence and Ideological Positions in U.S. House Elections," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 54(2), pages 371-388, April.
    11. Bol, Damien & Matakos, Konstantinos & Troumpounis, Orestis & Xefteris, Dimitrios, 2019. "Electoral rules, strategic entry and polarization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 178(C).

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