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A theory of communication in political campaigns

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  • Denter, Philipp

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Abstract

In this paper I develop a formal theory of campaign communications. Voters have priors about the quality of candidates' policies in the different policy issues and about the issues’ relative importance. Candidates spend time or money (TV ads, public speeches, etc.) in an effort to influence voters' decision at the ballot. Influence has two simultaneous effects: (i) it increases the quality of the policy in the issue as perceived by the voters through policy advertising and (ii) it makes the issue more salient through issue priming, thereby increasing the issue's perceived importance. A strategy is an allocation of influence activities to the different issues or topics. I show conditions under which candidates’ strategies converge or diverge, which issues – if any – will dominate the campaign, and under what conditions candidates are forced to focus on issues in which they are perceived to be weak. I develop a set of novel testable predictions and discuss the model’s predictive power by example of the 2008 presidential campaign in the U.S.

Suggested Citation

  • Denter, Philipp, 2013. "A theory of communication in political campaigns," Economics Working Paper Series 1302, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:usg:econwp:2013:02
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    File URL: http://ux-tauri.unisg.ch/RePEc/usg/econwp/EWP-1302.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Enriqueta Aragonès & Micael Castanheira & Marco Giani, 2012. "Electoral Competition through Issue Selection," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 903.12, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
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    3. Denter, Philipp & Sisak, Dana, 2013. "Do Polls Create Momentum in Political Campaigns?," Economics Working Paper Series 1326, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    4. Stergios Skaperdas & Samarth Vaidya, 2012. "Persuasion as a contest," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 51(2), pages 465-486, October.
    5. Nicolas Sahuguet & Nicola Persico, 2006. "Campaign spending regulation in a model of redistributive politics," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 28(1), pages 95-124, May.
    6. Denter, Philipp & Sisak, Dana, 2015. "Do polls create momentum in political competition?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 1-14.
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    8. Stefan Buehler & Daniel Halbheer, 2011. "Selling when Brand Image Matters," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 167(1), pages 102-118, March.
    9. Thomas Jensen, 2007. "Elections, Private Information, and State-Dependent Candidate Quality," Discussion Papers 07-13, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    10. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414, January.
    11. Dan Kovenock J. & Brian Roberson, 2010. "Conflicts with Multiple Battlefields," CESifo Working Paper Series 3165, CESifo Group Munich.
    12. repec:cup:apsrev:v:89:y:1995:i:01:p:49-61_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132-132.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Denter, Philipp & Sisak, Dana, 2015. "Do polls create momentum in political competition?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 1-14.
    2. Denter, Philipp & Sisak, Dana, 2013. "Do Polls Create Momentum in Political Campaigns?," Economics Working Paper Series 1326, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    3. Stephen Ansolabehere & M. Socorro Puy, 2015. "Issue-salience, Issue-divisiveness and Voting Decisions," Working Papers 2015-01, Universidad de Málaga, Department of Economic Theory, Málaga Economic Theory Research Center.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Multi issue campaign; campaign communication; policy advertising; issue priming;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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