Policy Divergence in Multicandidate Probabilistic Spatial Voting
Existing models of multicandidate spatial competition with probabilistic voting typically predict a high degree of policy convergence, yet in actual elections candidates advocate quite divergent sets of policies. What accounts for this disparity between theory and empirical observation? I introduce two variations on the basic probabilistic vote model which may account for candidate policy divergence: 1) a model which incorporates candidate-specific variables, so that candidates may enjoy nonpolicy-related electoral advantages (or disadvantages); 2) a model which allows nonzero correlations between the random terms associated with voters' candidate utilities, thereby capturing situations where voters view two or more candidates as similar on nonpolicy grounds. I report candidate equilibrium analyses for each model, which show far greater policy divergence than exists under the standard probabilistic vote model. I then analyze the strategic logic which underlies these results. Copyright 1999 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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