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Partisan politics and election failure with ignorant voters

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  • Gul, Faruk
  • Pesendorfer, Wolfgang

Abstract

We analyze candidate competition when some voters do not observe a candidate's policy choice. Voters have a personality preference when both candidates offer the same policy. In equilibrium, the candidate with a personality advantage may get elected with a partisan policy even though his opponent's policy is preferred by all voters. The departure from the Downsian prediction is most pronounced when candidates have a weak policy preference and care mostly about winning the election. In that case, uninformed voters choose the candidate with the preferred personality even if electing this candidate implies a lower payoff on average.

Suggested Citation

  • Gul, Faruk & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 2009. "Partisan politics and election failure with ignorant voters," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 146-174, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:144:y:2009:i:1:p:146-174
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Aragones, Enriqueta & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2002. "Mixed Equilibrium in a Downsian Model with a Favored Candidate," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 131-161, March.
    2. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1029-1058, September.
    3. Bernhardt, Dan & Duggan, John & Squintani, Francesco, 2007. "Electoral competition with privately-informed candidates," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 1-29, January.
    4. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-424, June.
    5. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    6. Wittman, Donald, 1977. "Candidates with policy preferences: A dynamic model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 180-189, February.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Gersbach, Hans & Muller, Philippe & Tejada, Oriol, 2016. "The Effects of Higher Re-election Hurdles and Costs of Policy Change on Political Polarization," CEPR Discussion Papers 11375, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Jo Thori Lind & Dominic Rohner, 2017. "Knowledge is Power: A Theory of Information, Income and Welfare Spending," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(336), pages 611-646, October.
    3. Yuichiro Kamada Jr. & Fuhito Kojima Jr., 2014. "Voter Preferences, Polarization, and Electoral Policies," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 203-236, November.
    4. Benjamin Ogden, 2017. "The Imperfect Beliefs Voting Model," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2017-20, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    5. Acharya, Avidit, 2016. "Information aggregation failure in a model of social mobility," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 257-272.
    6. Anja Prummer, 2016. "Spatial Advertisement in Political Campaigns," Working Papers 805, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
    7. Stefan Krasa & Mattias Polborn, 2014. "Policy Divergence and Voter Polarization in a Structural Model of Elections," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(1), pages 31-76.
    8. Lim, Claire S.H. & Snyder, James M., 2015. "Is more information always better? Party cues and candidate quality in U.S. judicial elections," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 107-123.

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