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Satisficing and Selection in Electoral Competition


  • Bendor, Jonathan
  • Mookherjee, Dilip
  • Ray, Debraj


We model political parties as adaptive decision-makers who compete in a sequence of elections. The key assumptions are that winners satisfice (the winning party in period t keeps its platform in t + 1) while losers search . Under fairly mild assumptions about losers' search rules, we show that the sequence of winning platforms is absorbed into the top cycle of the (finite) set of feasible platforms with probability one. This implies that if there is a majority rule winner then ultimately the incumbent party will espouse it. However, our model, unlike Downs–Hotelling or Kollman–Miller–Page, does not predict full convergence: we show, under weak assumptions about the out-party's search, that losing parties do not stabilize at the majority rule winner (should it exist). We also establish, both analytically and computationally, that the adaptive process is robust: if a majority rule winner nearly exists then the trajectory of winning platforms tends to be close to the trajectory of a process which actually has such a winner.

Suggested Citation

  • Bendor, Jonathan & Mookherjee, Dilip & Ray, Debraj, 2006. "Satisficing and Selection in Electoral Competition," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 1(2), pages 171-200, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:now:jlqjps:100.00000005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas Philippon & Ariell Reshef, 2009. "Wages and Human Capital in the U.S. Financial Industry: 1909-2006," NBER Working Papers 14644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Tripathi Micky & Ansolabehere Stephen & Jr James M. Snyder, 2002. "Are PAC Contributions and Lobbying Linked? New Evidence from the 1995 Lobby Disclosure Act," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(2), pages 1-26, August.
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    7. Peltzman, Sam, 1984. "Constituent Interest and Congressional Voting," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 181-210, April.
    8. Piskorski, Tomasz & Seru, Amit & Vig, Vikrant, 2010. "Securitization and distressed loan renegotiation: Evidence from the subprime mortgage crisis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(3), pages 369-397, September.
    9. Peltzman, Sam, 1985. "An Economic Interpretation of the History of Congressional Voting in the Twentieth Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 656-675, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pascal Gautier & Raphael Soubeyran, 2005. "Political Cycles: the Opposition Advantage," Public Economics 0510019, EconWPA.
    2. Raphaël Soubeyran & Pascal Gautier, 2008. "Political Cycles: Issue Ownership and the Opposition Advantage," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 10(4), pages 685-716, August.
    3. Vincent Anesi, 2012. "A new old solution for weak tournaments," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 39(4), pages 919-930, October.

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