Advertising Competition in Presidential Elections
Presidential candidates choose advertising strategically across markets based on each state's potential to tip the election. The winner-take-all rules in the Electoral College concentrate advertising in battleground states, ignoring most voters. We estimate an equilibrium model of competition between candidates to evaluate advertising and voting outcomes. In a direct vote counterfactual, all states receive positive advertising and both expenditures and turnout increase. Although states' political preferences drive competition in the Electoral College, candidates focus on cheap advertising targets in a direct vote. Simulations removing advertising price variation suggest a direct vote. Simulations removing advertising price variation suggest a direct vote spreads political attention uniformly across markets with diverse preferences.
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