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Electoral Competition through Issue Selection

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  • Enriqueta Aragonès

    ()

  • Micael Castanheira

    ()

  • Marco Giani

    ()

Abstract

Politics must tackle multiple issues at once. In a first-best world, political competition constrains parties to prioritize issues according to the voters' true concerns. In the real world, the opposite also happens: parties manipulate voter priorities by emphasizing issues selectively during the political campaign. This phenomenon, known as priming, should allow parties to pay less attention to the issues that they intend to mute. We develop a model of endogenous issue ownership in which two vote-seeking parties (i) invest to attract voters with "better" policy proposals and (ii) choose a communication campaign to focus voter attention on specific issues. We identify novel feedbacks between communication and investment. In particular, we find that stronger priming effects can backfire by constraining parties to invest more resources in all issues, including the ones they would otherwise intend to mute. We also identify under which conditions parties prefer to focus on their "historical issues" or to engage in issue stealing. Typically, the latter happens when priming effects are strong, and historical reputations differentiates parties less.

Suggested Citation

  • Enriqueta Aragonès & Micael Castanheira & Marco Giani, 2012. "Electoral Competition through Issue Selection," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 903.12, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  • Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:903.12
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Josep Colomer & Humberto Llavador, 2012. "An agenda-setting model of electoral competition," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 73-93, March.
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    3. Aragonès, Enriqueta & Sánchez-Pagés, Santiago, 2010. "The disadvantage of winning an election," SIRE Discussion Papers 2010-21, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    4. 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.
    5. Sides, John, 2006. "The Origins of Campaign Agendas," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(03), pages 407-436, July.
    6. Dan Kovenock J. & Brian Roberson, 2010. "Conflicts with Multiple Battlefields," CESifo Working Paper Series 3165, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Pablo Amorós & M. Puy, 2013. "Issue convergence or issue divergence in a political campaign?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 155(3), pages 355-371, June.
    8. Partha Dasgupta & Eric Maskin, 1986. "The Existence of Equilibrium in Discontinuous Economic Games, I: Theory," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(1), pages 1-26.
    9. Massimo Morelli & Richard Van Weelden, 2013. "Ideology and information in policymaking," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 25(3), pages 412-439, July.
    10. AMOROS, Pablo & PUY, M. Socorro, 2007. "Dialogue or issue divergence in the political campaign?," CORE Discussion Papers 2007084, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Elliott Ash & Massimo Morelli & Richard Van Weelden, 2015. "Election and Divisiveness: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 542, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    2. Ying Chen & Hülya Eraslan, 2017. "Dynamic Agenda Setting," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 1-32, May.
    3. Drago, Francesco & Galbiati, Roberto & Sobbrio, Francesco, 2017. "The Political Cost of Being Soft on Crime: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 12097, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Burkhard Schipper & Hee Yeul Woo, 2014. "Political Awareness, Microtargeting of Voters, and Negative Electoral Campaigning," Working Papers 148, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    5. Prato, Carlo & Wolton, Stephane, 2014. "The Voters' Curses: The Upsides and Downsides of Political Engagement," MPRA Paper 53482, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Antoine Mandel & Xavier Venel, 2017. "Dynamic competition over social networks Dynamic competition over social networks," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01524453, HAL.
    7. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati & Francesco Sobbrio, 2017. "Voters' Response to Public Policies: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 6826, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Prato, Carlo & Wolton, Stephane, 2013. "Rational Ignorance, Elections, and Reform," MPRA Paper 68638, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 Dec 2015.
    9. Antoine Mandel & Xavier Venel, 2017. "Dynamic competition over social networks," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 17021, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    10. Stephen Ansolabehere & M. Socorro Puy, 2015. "Issue-salience, Issue-divisiveness and Voting Decisions," Working Papers 2015-01, Universidad de Málaga, Department of Economic Theory, Málaga Economic Theory Research Center.
    11. Denter, Philipp, 2013. "A theory of communication in political campaigns," Economics Working Paper Series 1302, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    12. Osório, António (António Miguel), 2018. "Conflict and Competition over Multi-Issues," Working Papers 2072/306550, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    party strategy; salience; issue selection and ownership; priming;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government

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