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A Spatial Theory of Media Slant and Voter Choice

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  • J. Duggan
  • C. Martinelli

Abstract

We develop a theory of media slant as a systematic filtering of political news that reduces multidimensional politics to the one-dimensional space perceived by voters. Economic and political choices are interdependent in our theory: expected electoral results influence economic choices, and economic choices in turn influence voting behaviour. In a two-candidate election, we show that media favouring the front-runner will focus on issues unlikely to deliver a surprise, while media favouring the underdog will gamble for resurrection. We characterize the socially optimal slant and show that it coincides with the one favoured by the underdog under a variety of circumstances. Balanced media, giving each issue equal coverage, may be worse for voters than partisan media. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Duggan & C. Martinelli, 2011. "A Spatial Theory of Media Slant and Voter Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(2), pages 640-666.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:78:y:2011:i:2:p:640-666
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdq009
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