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Campaign Rhetoric and the Hide-&-Seek Game

  • Sourav Bhattacharya

We present a model of political campaigning where a candidate chooses between promoting oneself (positive campaign) or attacking the rival (negative campaign). The media validates the claims made by candidates, and the quality of a candidate is not fully revealed unless there is a debate about her suitability, i.e. she is the subject of both a positive and a negative campaign. Negative campaigns may be used either to expose the rival candidate (informative role) or to turn attention away from oneself (non-informative role). Our model suggests that in order to ascertain the effect of negative advertising, studies should take into account the profile of messages (i.e. messages employed by both candidates) rather than the individual message in isolation. Voter expectation about candidate quality plays a major role in campaign selection: while the incidence of negative campaigning goes down as the expected prior improves, the probability of selection of the correct candidate is non-monotonic in the said prior.

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Paper provided by University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 457.

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Date of creation: Jan 2011
Date of revision: Nov 2012
Handle: RePEc:pit:wpaper:457
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  1. Robert W. Rosenthal & Jason Shachat & Mark Walker, 2003. "Hide and Seek in Arizona," Experimental 0312001, EconWPA.
  2. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, June.
  3. Polborn, Mattias K. & David T., Yi, 2006. "Informative Positive and Negative Campaigning," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 1(4), pages 351-371, October.
  4. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Scholarly Articles 4554125, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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