Candidates’ policy strategies in primary elections: does strategic voting by the primary electorate matter?
Empirical research reports conflicting conclusions about whether primary election voters strategically account for candidates’ general election prospects when casting their votes. We model the strategic calculations of office-seeking candidates facing two-stage elections beginning with a primary, and we compare candidates’ policy strategies in situations where primary voters strategically support the most viable general election candidate against candidate strategies when voters expressively support their preferred primary candidate regardless of electability. Our analyses—in which the candidates’ appeal is based on their policy positions and their campaigning skills—suggest a surprising conclusion: namely, that strategic and expressive primary voting typically support identical equilibrium configurations in candidate strategies. Our conclusions are relevant to candidates facing contested primaries, and also to political parties facing the strategic decision about whether or not to use primary elections to select their candidates—a common dilemma for Latin American (and some European) parties. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014
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