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Last Minute Policies and the Incumbency Advantage

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  • Elena Manzoni
  • Stefan P. Penczynski

Abstract

This paper models a purely informational mechanism behind the incumbency advantage. In a two-period electoral campaign with two policy issues, a specialized incumbent and an unspecialized, but possibly more competent challenger compete for election by voters who are heterogeneously informed about the state of the world. Due to the asymmetries in government responsibility between candidates, the incumbent's statements may convey information on the relevance of the issues to voters. In equilibrium, the incumbent sometimes strategically releases his statement early and thus signals the importance of his signature issue to the voters. This gives rise to the incumbency advantage. We find that, since the incumbent’s positioning on the issue reveals private information which the challenger can use in later statements, the incumbent's incentives to distort the campaign are decreasing in the quality of the incumbent, as previously documented by the empirical literature. However, we show that this implies a non-monotonicity in the distortions that arise in equilibrium.

Suggested Citation

  • Elena Manzoni & Stefan P. Penczynski, 2012. "Last Minute Policies and the Incumbency Advantage," CESifo Working Paper Series 3773, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3773
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Georgy Egorov, 2015. "Single-Issue Campaigns and Multidimensional Politics," NBER Working Papers 21265, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Toke Aidt & Francisco Veiga & Linda Veiga, 2011. "Election results and opportunistic policies: A new test of the rational political business cycle model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(1), pages 21-44, July.
    3. Fiorina, Morris P., 1977. "The Case of the Vanishing Marginals: The Bureaucracy Did It," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 177-181, March.
    4. 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.
    5. Gordon, Sanford C. & Huber, Gregory A. & Landa, Dimitri, 2007. "Challenger Entry and Voter Learning," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 303-320, May.
    6. Hodler, Roland & Loertscher, Simon & Rohner, Dominic, 2010. "Inefficient policies and incumbency advantage," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 761-767, October.
    7. Jean-François Laslier & Karine Straeten, 2004. "Electoral competition under imperfect information," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 24(2), pages 419-446, August.
    8. Laslier, Jean-François, 2006. "Spatial Approval Voting," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 160-185, April.
    9. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mamadou Boukari & Etienne Farvaque & Daniel Cakpo-Tozo, 2019. "“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!†Popularity Gains as an Incentive to Legislate Frantically?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 39(2), pages 1488-1507.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    incumbency advantage; electoral competition; information revelation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General

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