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Playing for Your Own Audience: Extremism in Two-Party Elections

Listed author(s):
  • Gabor Virag


    (Economics University of Rochester)

This paper considers a two-party election with a single-dimensional policy space. We assume that each voter has a higher probability of observing the position of the party he is affiliated with than the position of the other party, an assumption that is consistent with the National Election Studies (NES) electoral data set. In equilibrium, the two parties locate away from the median, because the voters who dislike a party's platform observe its policy choice with a lower probability, and its own audience like policy choices that cater to its taste. As the asymmetry in voter information or the cost of voting increases, the parties adopt more extreme platforms, while if there are fewer extreme voters the opposite effect occurs. Making voters more symmetrically informed about the two parties' platforms increases the welfare of society, while asymmetric information acquisition by the voters is worse than no information acquisition at all. Copyright © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc..

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2005 Meeting Papers with number 350.

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Date of creation: 2005
Handle: RePEc:red:sed005:350
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Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

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