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Do polls create momentum in political competition?

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  • Denter, Philipp
  • Sisak, Dana

Abstract

We explore how public opinion polls affect candidates' campaign spending in political competition. Generally, polls lead to (more) asymmetric behavior. Under a majority rule, there always exists an equilibrium in which the initially more popular candidate invests more in the campaign and thereby increases her lead in expectation: polls create momentum. When campaigning is very effective and the race is very close, a second type of equilibrium may exist: The trailing candidate outspends and overtakes his opponent. Regardless of the type of equilibrium, polls have a tendency to decrease expected total campaigning expenditures by amplifying ex-ante asymmetries between candidates and thus defusing competition. When candidates care also for their vote share in addition to having the majority, candidates' incentives crucially depend on the distribution of voters' candidate preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Denter, Philipp & Sisak, Dana, 2015. "Do polls create momentum in political competition?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 1-14.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:130:y:2015:i:c:p:1-14
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2015.07.003
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Boyer, Pierre C. & Konrad, Kai A. & Roberson, Brian, 2017. "Targeted campaign competition, loyal voters, and supermajorities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 49-62.
    2. repec:spr:sochwe:v:51:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s00355-018-1117-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Denter, Philipp & Sisak, Dana, 2016. "Head starts in dynamic tournaments?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 94-97.
    4. Klein, Arnd Heinrich & Schmutzler, Armin, 2017. "Optimal effort incentives in dynamic tournaments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 199-224.
    5. 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.
    6. Philipp Denter & John Morgan & Dana (D.) Sisak, 2018. "Showing Off or Laying Low? The Economics of Psych-outs," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 18-041/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    7. Hett, Florian, 2014. "Dynamic Contests with Feedback and Heterogeneity: Empirical Evidence from a Gaming App," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100494, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. repec:eee:pubeco:v:166:y:2018:i:c:p:53-62 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:eee:ecmode:v:70:y:2018:i:c:p:401-416 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Polls; Political campaigns; Feedback; Momentum; Contest;

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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