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Candidates’ policy strategies in primary elections: does strategic voting by the primary electorate matter?

  • James Adams

    ()

  • Samuel Merrill

    ()

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    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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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11127-013-0123-5
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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

    Volume (Year): 160 (2014)
    Issue (Month): 1 (July)
    Pages: 7-24

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:160:y:2014:i:1:p:7-24
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    1. Steven Callander, 2007. "Bandwagons and Momentum in Sequential Voting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 653-684.
    2. Kenneth Train, 2003. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Online economics textbooks, SUNY-Oswego, Department of Economics, number emetr2, March.
    3. Jackson, Matthew O. & Mathevet, Laurent & Mattes, Kyle, . "Nomination processes and policy outcomes," Working Papers 1250, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    4. Gerber, Elisabeth R & Morton, Rebecca B, 1998. "Primary Election Systems and Representation," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 304-24, October.
    5. Keith Poole, 2007. "Changing minds? Not in Congress!," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 131(3), pages 435-451, June.
    6. Guillermo Owen & Bernard Grofman, 2006. "Two-stage electoral competition in two-party contests: persistent divergence of party positions," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 547-569, June.
    7. Gilles Serra, 2011. "Why primaries? The party's tradeoff between policy and valence," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 23(1), pages 21-51, January.
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