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Reputation and Rhetoric in Elections


  • Enriqueta Aragones

    () (Institut d’Analisi Economica, CSIC)

  • Thomas R. Palfrey

    () (Departments of Politics and Economics, Princeton University)

  • Andrew Postlewaite

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)


We analyze conditions under which campaign rhetoric may affect the beliefs of the voters over what policy will be implemented by the winning candidate of an election. We develop a model of repeated elections with complete information in which candidates are purely ideological. We analyze an equilibrium in which voters' strategies involve a credible threat to punish candidates who renege of their campaign promises, and all campaign promises are believed by voters, and honored by candidates. We obtain that the degree to which promises are credible in equilibrium is an increasing function of the value of a candidate's reputation. We also show how the model can be extended so that rhetoric also signals candidate quality.

Suggested Citation

  • Enriqueta Aragones & Thomas R. Palfrey & Andrew Postlewaite, 2005. "Reputation and Rhetoric in Elections," PIER Working Paper Archive 05-021, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:05-021

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John Duggan & Mark Fey, 2006. "Repeated Downsian electoral competition," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 35(1), pages 39-69, December.
    2. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    3. Banks, Jeffrey S., 1990. "A model of electoral competition with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 309-325, April.
    4. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
    5. Jeffrey Banks & John Duggan, 2001. "A Multidimensional Model of Repeated Elections," Wallis Working Papers WP24, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
    6. Avinash Dixit & Gene M. Grossman & Faruk Gul, 2000. "The Dynamics of Political Compromise," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 531-568, June.
    7. Joseph E. Harrington, 1992. "The Revelation Of Information Through The Electoral Process: An Exploratory Analysis," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(3), pages 255-276, November.
    8. Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Credibility and Policy Convergence in a Two-Party System with Rational Voters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 796-805, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Matteo Triossi, 2006. "Reliability and Responsibility: A Theory of Endogenous Commitment," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 21, Collegio Carlo Alberto.

    More about this item


    Repeated Elections; Commitment; Reputation;

    JEL classification:

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


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