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Information and Extremism in Elections

  • Raphael Boleslavsky

    (Department of Economics, University of Miami)

  • Christopher Cotton

    (Department of Economics, University of Miami)

We show that informative political campaigns can increase political extremism and decrease voter welfare. We present a model of elections in which candidate ideology is strategically selected prior to a campaign which reveals information about candidate quality. Documented means by which campaigns can harm voters are not present in our model; special interest groups, fundraising, and biased or private information are not part of the analysis. Even under these optimistic assumptions, informative campaigns have negative consequences. Our results have implications regarding media coverage, the number of debates, and campaign finance reform.

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Paper provided by University of Miami, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2013-04.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 04 Nov 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mia:wpaper:2013-04
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  1. Dewatripont, Mathias & Jewitt, Ian & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "The Economics of Career Concerns, Part I: Comparing Information Structures," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 183-98, January.
  2. Bengt Holmstrom, 1997. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1205, David K. Levine.
  3. Stephen Coate, 2004. "Political Competition with Campaign Contributions and Informative Advertising," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(5), pages 772-804, 09.
  4. Andrea Prat, 2005. "The Wrong Kind of Transparency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 862-877, June.
  5. Andrea Prat, 2002. "Campaign Advertising and Voter Welfare," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 999-1017.
  6. Alberto F. Alesina & Richard T. Holden, 2008. "Ambiguity and Extremism in Elections," NBER Working Papers 14143, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Holmstrom, Bengt, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 169-82, January.
  8. Kittsteiner, Thomas & Eyster, Erik, 2007. "Party platforms in electoral competition with heterogeneous constituencies," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 2(1), pages 41-70, March.
  9. Filip Palda & Kristian Palda, 1998. "The impact of campaign expenditures on political competition in the French legislative elections of 1993," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(1), pages 157-174, January.
  10. Moscarini, Giuseppe & Ottaviani, Marco, 2001. "Price Competition for an Informed Buyer," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 101(2), pages 457-493, December.
  11. Dan Bernhardt & Odilon C�mara & Francesco Squintani, 2011. "Competence and Ideology," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(2), pages 487-522.
  12. Nicolas Sahuguet & Nicola Persico, 2006. "Campaign spending regulation in a model of redistributive politics," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 95-124, 05.
  13. Aragones, Enriqueta & Palfrey, Thomas. R., 2000. "Mixed Equilibrium in a Downsian Model With a Favored Candidate," Working Papers 1102, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  14. Micael Castanheira De Moura & Juan Carrillo, 2008. "Information and strategic political polarization," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/10003, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  15. Herrera, Helios & Levine, David K. & Martinelli, César, 2008. "Policy platforms, campaign spending and voter participation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 501-513, April.
  16. Potters, Jan & Sloof, Randolph & van Winden, Frans, 1997. "Campaign expenditures, contributions and direct endorsements: The strategic use of information and money to influence voter behavior," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 1-31, February.
  17. Andrea Mattozzi & Antonio Merlo, 2007. "The Transparency of Politics and the Quality of Politicians," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 311-315, May.
  18. Ingemar Hansson & Charles Stuart, 1984. "Voting competitions with interested politicians: Platforms do not converge to the preferences of the median voter," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 431-441, January.
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