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Imperfectly Informed Voters and Strategic Extremism

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  • Enriqueta Aragonès
  • Dimitrios Xefteris

Abstract

We analyze a unidimensional model of two-candidate electoral competition where voters have imperfect information about the candidates' policy proposals, that is, voters cannot observe the exact policy proposals of the candidates but only which candidate offers the most leftist/rightist platform. We assume that candidates are purely office motivated and that one candidate enjoys a valence advantage over the other. We characterize the unique Sequential Equilibrium in very-weakly undominated strategies of the game. In this equilibrium the behavior of the two candidates tends to maximum extremism, due to the voters' lack of information. But it may converge or diverge depending on the size of the advantage. For small values of the advantage candidates converge to the extreme policy most preferred by the median and for large values of the advantage candidates strategies diverge: each candidate specializes in a different extreme policy. These results are robust to the introduction of a proportion of well informed voters. In this case the degree of extremism decreases when the voters become more informed.

Suggested Citation

  • Enriqueta Aragonès & Dimitrios Xefteris, 2013. "Imperfectly Informed Voters and Strategic Extremism," Working Papers 725, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:725
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2005. "Strategic Extremism: Why Republicans and Democrats Divide on Religious Values," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1283-1330.
    2. Marx, Leslie M. & Swinkels, Jeroen M., 2000. "Order Independence for Iterated Weak Dominance," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 324-329, May.
    3. Thomas R. Palfrey, 1984. "Spatial Equilibrium with Entry," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 139-156.
    4. 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.
    5. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    6. Wittman, Donald, 1977. "Candidates with policy preferences: A dynamic model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 180-189, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aragonès, Enriqueta & Xefteris, Dimitrios, 2017. "Voters' private valuation of candidates' quality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 121-130.
    2. Dimitrios Xefteris & Didier Laussel & Michel Le Breton, 2017. "Simple centrifugal incentives in spatial competition," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 46(2), pages 357-381, May.
    3. Bernard Grofman & Orestis Troumpounis & Dimitrios Xefteris, 2016. "Electoral competition with primaries and quality asymmetries," Working Papers 135286117, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    4. Dimitrios Xefteris, 2016. "Candidate valence in a spatial model with entry," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 05-2016, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Downsian model; imperfect information; advantaged candidate; maximum differentiation;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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