Strategic Competition in Sequential Election Contests
This paper studies a sequential election contest, such as the American presidential primary, in which several elections occur one at a time until a single winner emerges. The conventional wisdom is such a system benefits a candidate favored in the initial elections because of momentum. This paper uncovers a potentially opposing force if participation is costly and candidates exit when they have unfavorable future prospects. A candidate with friendly elections at the end of the contest will typically benefit from the resulting game theoretic competition. Tension between this strategic effect and momentum helps explain several empirical regularities of presidential primaries. Copyright 2002 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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