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Power-hungry Candidates, Policy Favors, and Pareto Improving Campaign Finance Policy

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  • Stephen Coate

Abstract

This paper argues that campaign finance policy, in the form of contribution limits and matching public financing, can be Pareto improving even under the most optimistic assumptions concerning the role of campaign advertising and the rationality of voters. The argument assumes that candidates use campaign contributions to convey truthful information to voters about their qualifications for office and that voters update their beliefs rationally on the basis of the information they have seen. It also assumes that campaign contributions are provided by interest groups and that candidates can offer to provide policy favors for their interest groups to attract higher contributions. The argument is developed in the context of a simple model of political competition with campaign contributions and informative advertising.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Coate, 2003. "Power-hungry Candidates, Policy Favors, and Pareto Improving Campaign Finance Policy," NBER Working Papers 9601, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9601
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    1. Kreps, David M & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Sequential Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 863-894, July.
    2. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1029-1058, September.
    3. 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.
    4. Thomas Stratmann, 2006. "Contribution limits and the effectiveness of campaign spending," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 129(3), pages 461-474, December.
    5. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-850, September.
    6. Christian Schultz, 2007. "Strategic Campaigns and Redistributive Politics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(522), pages 936-963, July.
    7. Andrea Prat, 2002. "Campaign Advertising and Voter Welfare," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 999-1017.
    8. Levitt, Steven D, 1994. "Using Repeat Challengers to Estimate the Effect of Campaign Spending on Election Outcomes in the U.S. House," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 777-798, August.
    9. repec:cup:apsrev:v:88:y:1994:i:01:p:33-47_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Aragones, Enriqueta & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2002. "Mixed Equilibrium in a Downsian Model with a Favored Candidate," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 131-161, March.
    11. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-424, June.
    12. Prat, Andrea, 2002. "Campaign Spending with Office-Seeking Politicians, Rational Voters, and Multiple Lobbies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 162-189, March.
    13. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2008. "Issue Unbundling via Citizens' Initiatives," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(4), pages 379-397, December.
    14. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1996. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(2), pages 265-286.
    15. 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, September.
    16. Rebecca Morton & Charles Cameron, 1992. "Elections And The Theory Of Campaign Contributions: A Survey And Critical Analysis," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(1), pages 79-108, March.
    17. David Austen-Smith, 1987. "Interest groups, campaign contributions, and probabilistic voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 54(2), pages 123-139, January.
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    1. repec:ces:ifodic:v:1:y:2003:i:1:p:14567829 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Thomas Stratmann, 2003. "Do Strict Electoral Campaign Finance Rules Limit Corruption?," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 1(1), pages 24-27, 02.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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