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Contest with Attack and Defence: Does Negative Campaigning Increase or Decrease Voters’ Turnout?

Listed author(s):
  • Raphaël Soubeyran

    (GREQAM Université de la Mediterrannée)

We present a general model of two players contest with two types of efforts. Contrary to the classical models of contest, where each player chooses a unique effort, and where the outcome depends on the efforts of all the players, contestants are allowed to reduce the effort of the opponent. Defence increases one’s chance of winning while attack annihilates the defence of the opponent. This model has many applications like political campaigning, wars, competition among lobbies, job promotion competitions, or sport contests. We study the general model of contest with attacks and defence and propose an application to negative political campaigns, where two candidates arbitrate between disparaging their opponent or enhancing their own image. We propose sufficient conditions for the existence and uniqueness of a symmetric Nash equilibrium of the contest game. In the application, we contribute to the empirically debated question dealing with the effect of attack on voters turnout, and show that the conclusion depends on the distribution of voters sensitivity to defence and attack. Furthermore, contrary to the literature, we show that an underdog candidate may be less aggressive than his opponent.

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Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2005.128.

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Date of creation: Oct 2005
Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2005.128
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  1. Harrington, Joseph Jr. & Hess, Gregory D., 1996. "A Spatial Theory of Positive and Negative Campaigning," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 209-229, December.
  2. Konrad, Kai A, 2000. "Sabotage in Rent-Seeking Contests," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 155-165, April.
  3. 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.
  4. Cesar Martinelli & Helios Herrera & David K. Levine, 2004. "Voting Leaders and Voting Participation," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 319, Econometric Society.
  5. Christine Harbring & Bernd Irlenbusch & Matthias Kräkel & Reinhard Selten, 2004. "Sabotage in Asymmetric Contests – An Experimental Analysis," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse12_2004, University of Bonn, Germany.
  6. Matthias Kräkel, 2005. "Helping And Sabotaging In Tournaments," International Game Theory Review (IGTR), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 7(02), pages 211-228.
  7. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-580, June.
  8. J. Amegashie & Marco Runkel, 2007. "Sabotaging Potential Rivals," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 28(1), pages 143-162, January.
  9. Kong-Pin Chen, 2003. "Sabotage in Promotion Tournaments," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 119-140, April.
  10. Polborn, Mattias K. & David T., Yi, 2006. "Informative Positive and Negative Campaigning," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 1(4), pages 351-371, October.
  11. Dixit, Avinash K, 1987. "Strategic Behavior in Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 891-898, December.
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