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How Trump Triumphed :Multi-candidate Primaries with Buffoons

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  • Micael Castanheira De Moura
  • Steffen Huck
  • Johannes Leutgeb

Abstract

While people on all sides of the political spectrum were amazed that Donald Trump won the Republican nomination this paper demonstrates that Trump’s victory was not a crazy event but rather the equilibrium outcome of a multi-candidate race where one candidate, the buffoon, is viewed as likely to self-destruct and hence unworthy of attack. We model such primaries as a truel (a three-way duel), solve for its equilibrium, and test its implications in the lab. We find that people recognize a buffoon when they see one and aim their attacks elsewhere with the unfortunate consequence that the buffoon has an enhanced probability of winning. This result is strongest amongst those subjects who demonstrate an ability to best respond suggesting that our results would only be stronger when this game is played by experts and for higher stakes.

Suggested Citation

  • Micael Castanheira De Moura & Steffen Huck & Johannes Leutgeb, 2020. "How Trump Triumphed :Multi-candidate Primaries with Buffoons," Working Papers ECARES 2020-45, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:eca:wpaper:2013/313296
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    truel; political primaries; Trump;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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