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Last minute policies and the incumbency advantage


  • Elena Manzoni


  • Stefan P. Penczynski


This paper models a purely informational mechanism behind the incumbency advantage. In a two-period electoral campaign with two policy issues, a specialized incumbent and an unspecialized, but possibly more competent challenger compete for election by voters who are heterogeneously informed about the state of the world. Due to the asymmetries in government responsibility between candidates, the incumbent's statement may convey information on the relevance of the issues to voters. In equilibrium, the incumbent sometimes strategically releases his statement early and thus signals the importance of his signature issue to the voters. We find that, since the incumbent's positioning on the issue reveals private information which the challenger can use in later statements, the incumbent's incentives to distort the campaign are decreasing in the quality of the incumbent, as previously documented by the empirical literature. However, we show that this implies a non-monotonicity in the distortions that arise in equilibrium.

Suggested Citation

  • Elena Manzoni & Stefan P. Penczynski, 2013. "Last minute policies and the incumbency advantage," Working Papers 229, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:229

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:71:y:1977:i:01:p:177-181_25 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Toke Aidt & Francisco Veiga & Linda Veiga, 2011. "Election results and opportunistic policies: A new test of the rational political business cycle model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(1), pages 21-44, July.
    3. Hodler, Roland & Loertscher, Simon & Rohner, Dominic, 2010. "Inefficient policies and incumbency advantage," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 761-767, October.
    4. Arnaud Dellis, 2009. "The Salient Issue of Issue Salience," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 11(2), pages 203-231, April.
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    More about this item


    Incumbency advantage; electoral competition; information revelation; agenda;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General

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