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Campaign contributions as valence


  • Timothy Lambie-Hanson



I study how the possibility of voters contributing to candidates in response to the candidates’ policy proposals affects the equilibrium policy in winner-take-all political competition. More specifically, I allow each partisan voter to contribute to her preferred candidate where the amount contributed depends on the relative positions of the two candidates. Candidates then use the donations to build valence through campaigning, which in turn affects the voting decision of impressionable voters. Since candidates are concerned with raising money as well as picking a policy position preferred by the median voter, I show that campaign contributions may lead to divergent equilibria in winner-take-all elections when politicians are policy-motivated, albeit only under stylized utility functions and donor densities. Further, under symmetric voter and donor densities, if either the donor density is single-peaked or the voter utility is concave, a unique equilibrium exists in which both candidates propose the ideal policy of the median voter. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy Lambie-Hanson, 2013. "Campaign contributions as valence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 3-24, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:157:y:2013:i:1:p:3-24
    DOI: 10.1007/s11127-012-9927-y

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin J. Osborne, 1995. "Spatial Models of Political Competition under Plurality Rule: A Survey of Some Explanations of the Number of Candidates and the Positions They Take," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(2), pages 261-301, May.
    2. Campante, Filipe R., 2011. "Redistribution in a model of voting and campaign contributions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 646-656, August.
    3. Geoffrey Brennan & Alan Hamlin, 1998. "Expressive voting and electoral equilibrium," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 149-175, April.
    4. Michael Ensley, 2009. "Individual campaign contributions and candidate ideology," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 138(1), pages 221-238, January.
    5. Shiou Shieh & Wan-Hsiang Pan, 2010. "Individual campaign contributions in a Downsian model: expressive and instrumental motives," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 145(3), pages 405-416, December.
    6. Alexei Zakharov, 2009. "A model of candidate location with endogenous valence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 138(3), pages 347-366, March.
    7. 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.
    8. repec:cup:apsrev:v:88:y:1994:i:01:p:33-47_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Amihai Glazer & Mark Gradstein, 2005. "Elections with contribution-maximizing candidates," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(3), pages 467-482, March.
    10. Peter L. Francia & John C. Green & Paul S. Herrnson & Lynda W. Powell & Clyde Wilcox, 2005. "Limousine Liberals and Corporate Conservatives: The Financial Constituencies of the Democratic and Republican Parties," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 86(4), pages 761-778.
    11. Berinsky, Adam J. & Lewis, Jeffrey B., 2007. "An Estimate of Risk Aversion in the U.S. Electorate," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 2(2), pages 139-154, May.
    12. Peter Aranson & Melvin Hinich, 1979. "Some aspects of the political economy of election campaign contribution laws," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 435-461, September.
    13. Guillaume Hollard & Stéphane Rossignol, 2008. "An Alternative Approach to Valence Advantage in Spatial Competition," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 10(3), pages 441-454, June.
    14. Ashworth, Scott & Bueno de Mesquita, Ethan, 2009. "Elections with platform and valence competition," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 191-216, September.
    15. repec:hal:journl:hal-00267218 is not listed on IDEAS
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