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Salience: Agenda Choices by Competing Candidates


  • Marcus Berliant

    (Washington University in St. Louis)

  • Hideo Konishi

    () (Boston College)


Which issues are discussed by candidates in an election campaign? Why are some issues never discussed? Model tractability is lost quickly when dealing with these questions, partly because of the multidimensional voting inherent in models of multiple issues. Our model features two candidates for office who can talk about any subset of issues, allowing uncertainty both on the part of voters and candidates, and taking candidates to be office motivated. Candidates move first and simultaneously, announcing any positions they choose on any issues. To us, salience is simply the discussion of an issue in a campaign. If both candidates and voters are expected utility maximizers, we find salience results, in that candidates typically want to talk about everything (or they are indifferent between talking and nonsalience). Leaving the expected utility framework, we present an example using "Knightian uncertainty" or "maxmin expected utility with multiple priors" of Gilboa-Schmeidler to illustrate how robust nonsalience and salience of issues might be generated.

Suggested Citation

  • Marcus Berliant & Hideo Konishi, 2004. "Salience: Agenda Choices by Competing Candidates," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 603, Boston College Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:603

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alberto Alesina & Alex Cukierman, 1990. "The Politics of Ambiguity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(4), pages 829-850.
    2. Enriqueta Aragonés & Andrew Postlewaite, 1999. "Ambiguity in election games," Economics Working Papers 364, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    3. Chow, Clare Chua & Sarin, Rakesh K, 2001. "Comparative Ignorance and the Ellsberg Paradox," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 129-139, March.
    4. Richard Ball, 1999. "Discontinuity and non-existence of equilibrium in the probabilistic spatial voting model," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 16(4), pages 533-555.
    5. Heath, Chip & Tversky, Amos, 1991. "Preference and Belief: Ambiguity and Competence in Choice under Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 5-28, January.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:84:y:1990:i:01:p:237-241_19 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
    8. Adams, James, 1999. "Multiparty Spatial Competition with Probabilistic Voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(3-4), pages 259-274, June.
    9. Glazer, Amihai & Lohmann, Susanne, 1999. "Setting the Agenda: Electoral Competition, Commitment of Policy, and Issue Salience," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(3-4), pages 377-394, June.
    10. repec:cup:apsrev:v:66:y:1972:i:02:p:555-568_13 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Ho, Joanna L Y & Keller, L Robin & Keltyka, Pamela, 2002. "Effects of Outcome and Probabilistic Ambiguity on Managerial Choices," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 47-74, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Guido, Cataife, 2007. "The pronouncements of paranoid politicians," MPRA Paper 4473, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Bade, Sophie, 2011. "Electoral competition with uncertainty averse parties," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 12-29, May.
    3. Burkhard Schipper & Hee Yeul Woo, 2012. "Political Awareness and Microtargeting of Voters in Electoral Competition," Working Papers 124, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    4. Ellis, Andrew, 2016. "Condorcet meets Ellsberg," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 11(3), September.
    5. Takao Asano & Akihisa Shibata, 2011. "Risk and uncertainty in health investment," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 12(1), pages 79-85, February.
    6. Hideo Konishi & Chen-Yu Pan, 2017. "Campaign Contributions for Free Trade: Salient and Non-salient Agendas," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 926, Boston College Department of Economics.
    7. Arnaud Dellis, 2009. "The Salient Issue of Issue Salience," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 11(2), pages 203-231, April.
    8. 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.

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    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance

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