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The Effect of Candidate Quality on Electoral Equilibrium: An Experimental Study

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  • Enriqueta Aragonès
  • Thomas R. Palfrey

Abstract

When two candidates of different quality compete in a one dimensional policy space, the equilibrium outcomes are asymmetric and do not correspond to the median. There are three main effects. First, the better candidate adopts more centrist policies than the worse candidate. Second, the equilibrium is statistical, in the sense that it predicts a probability distribution of outcomes rather than a single degenerate outcome. Third, the equilibrium varies systematically with the level of uncertainty about the location of the median voter. We test these three predictions using laboratory experiments, and find strong support for all three. We also observe some biases and show that they can be explained by Quantal Response Equilibrium.

Suggested Citation

  • Enriqueta Aragonès & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2003. "The Effect of Candidate Quality on Electoral Equilibrium: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 59, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:59
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt, 2001. "Ten Little Treasures of Game Theory and Ten Intuitive Contradictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1402-1422, December.
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    4. McKelvey Richard D. & Palfrey Thomas R., 1995. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 6-38, July.
    5. Ansolabehere, Stephen & Snyder, James M, Jr, 2000. "Valence Politics and Equilibrium in Spatial Election Models," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(3-4), pages 327-336, June.
    6. Aragones, Enriqueta & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2002. "Mixed Equilibrium in a Downsian Model with a Favored Candidate," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 131-161, March.
    7. Richard D. Mckelvey & Thomas R. Palfrey, 1996. "A Statistical Theory Of Equilibrium In Games," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 186-209, June.
    8. repec:cup:apsrev:v:94:y:2000:i:02:p:407-423_22 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Sugato Dasgupta & Kenneth C. Williams, 2002. "A Principal-Agent Model of Elections with Novice Incumbents," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 14(4), pages 409-438, October.
    10. repec:cup:apsrev:v:57:y:1963:i:02:p:368-377_24 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Aragonès, Enriqueta & Xefteris, Dimitrios, 2012. "Candidate quality in a Downsian model with a continuous policy space," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 464-480.
    2. Drouvelis, Michalis & Saporiti, Alejandro & Vriend, Nicolaas J., 2014. "Political motivations and electoral competition: Equilibrium analysis and experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 86-115.
    3. Enriqueta Aragones & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2003. "Spatial Competition Between Two Candidates of Different Quality: The Effects of Candidate Ideology and Private Information," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 573.03, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
    4. Enriqueta Aragonès & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2004. "Electoral Competition Between Between Two Candidates of Different Quality: The Effects of Candidate Ideology and Private Information," Working Papers 60, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    5. repec:pri:cepsud:111palfrey is not listed on IDEAS

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