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Advertising Competition in Presidential Elections


  • Gordon, Brett R.

    (Columbia University)

  • Hartmann, Wesley R.

    (Stanford University)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gordon, Brett R. & Hartmann, Wesley R., 2013. "Advertising Competition in Presidential Elections," Research Papers 2131, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:2131

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Sinkinson & Amanda Starc, 2015. "Ask Your Doctor? Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Pharmaceuticals," NBER Working Papers 21045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • M37 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Advertising

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