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Policy Platforms, Campaign Spending and Voter Participation


  • Helios Herrera

    () (Centro de Investigacion Economica (CIE), Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM))

  • David K. Levine

    () (Department of Economics, UCLA)

  • Cesar Martinelli

    () (Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM)


We model electoral competition between two parties in a winner-take-all election. Parties choose strategically first their platforms and then their campaign spending under aggregate uncertainty about voters' preferences. We use the model to examine why campaign spending in the United States has increased at the same time that politics has become more polarized. We find that the popular explanation ­ better targeting of campaign spending ­ is not a likely explanation. While better targeting does lead to greater spending, it leads to less polarization. Instead we argue that the likely explanation is that voters references have become more volatile. This will both raise campaign spending and increase polarization. At the same time it is consistent with the observation that voters have become less committed to the two parties.

Suggested Citation

  • Helios Herrera & David K. Levine & Cesar Martinelli, 2005. "Policy Platforms, Campaign Spending and Voter Participation," Working Papers 0503, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  • Handle: RePEc:cie:wpaper:0503

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
    2. Christian Schultz, 2007. "Strategic Campaigns and Redistributive Politics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(522), pages 936-963, July.
    3. Andrea Prat, 2002. "Campaign Advertising and Voter Welfare," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 999-1017.
    4. Barry Nalebuff & Ron Shachar, 1999. "Follow the Leader: Theory and Evidence on Political Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 525-547, June.
    5. repec:cup:apsrev:v:88:y:1994:i:01:p:33-47_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Stephen Coate, 2004. "Political Competition with Campaign Contributions and Informative Advertising," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(5), pages 772-804, September.
    7. Eddie Dekel & Matthew O. Jackson & Asher Wolinsky, 2004. "Vote Buying," Discussion Papers 1386, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
      • Eddie Dekel & Matthew O. Jackson & Asher Wolinsky, 2005. "Vote Buying," Others 0503006, EconWPA.
      • Jackson, Matthew O. & Dekel, Eddie & Wolinsky, Asher, 2005. "Vote buying," Working Papers 1215, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    8. Enriqueta Aragonés & Zvika Neeman, 1994. "Strategic ambiguity in electoral competition," Economics Working Papers 162, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Apr 1996.
    9. Lindbeck, Assar & Weibull, Jorgen W., 1993. "A model of political equilibrium in a representative democracy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 195-209, June.
    10. David Austen-Smith, 1987. "Interest groups, campaign contributions, and probabilistic voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 54(2), pages 123-139, January.
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    More about this item


    Non Voting Paradox; Electoral Plataforms; Turnout;

    JEL classification:

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


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