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A Conflict Theory of Voting

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  • Jeremy Petranka

    (Department of Business Economics and Public Policy, Indiana University Kelley School of Business)

Abstract

Research in the behavioral psychology of voting has found that voters tend to be poorly informed, highly responsive to candidate personality, and follow a "fast and frugal" heuristic. This paper analyzes optimal candidate strategies in a two-party election in which voters are assumed to behave according to these traits. Under this assumption, candidates face a trade-off between appealing to a broader base and being overly ambiguous in their policy stances. A decrease in the cost of ambiguity within this model offers a parsimonious justification for the increase in voter independence, candidate ambiguity, and party politics that empirical studies have revealed over the last five decades. I additionally argue a decrease in the cost of ambiguity is a natural result of the primary system, campaign finance reform, and changing media environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeremy Petranka, 2008. "A Conflict Theory of Voting," Working Papers 2010-07, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy, revised Mar 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:iuk:wpaper:2010-07
    as

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    File URL: http://kelley.iu.edu/riharbau/RePEc/iuk/wpaper/bepp2010-07-petranka.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jeremy Petranka, 2009. "A Threshold Interpretation of the Ratio-Form Contest Success Function," Working Papers 2010-06, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy, revised Mar 2010.
    2. Tim Groseclose & Jeffrey Milyo, 2005. "A Measure of Media Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1191-1237.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeremy Petranka, 2009. "A Threshold Interpretation of the Ratio-Form Contest Success Function," Working Papers 2010-06, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy, revised Mar 2010.

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