IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Is the 50-state strategy optimal?
[Ist die 50-Staaten-Strategie optimal?]


  • Kovenock, Dan
  • Roberson, Brian


In 2005, the Democratic National Committee adopted the 50-state strategy in lieu of the strategy of focusing solely on battleground states. The rationale given for this move is that campaign expenditures are durable outlays that impact both current and future campaigns. This paper investigates the optimality of the 50-state strategy in a simple dynamic game of campaign resource allocation in which expenditures act as a form of investment. Neither the 50-state nor the battleground-states strategy is likely to arise in equilibrium. Instead, parties employ a modified battleground-states strategy in which they stochastically target non-battleground states.

Suggested Citation

  • Kovenock, Dan & Roberson, Brian, 2008. "Is the 50-state strategy optimal?
    [Ist die 50-Staaten-Strategie optimal?]
    ," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2008-16, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbmpg:spii200816

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dan Kovenock & Brian Roberson, 2008. "Electoral Poaching and Party Identification," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 20(3), pages 275-302, July.
    2. Klumpp, Tilman & Polborn, Mattias K., 2006. "Primaries and the New Hampshire Effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(6-7), pages 1073-1114, August.
    3. Dan Kovenock & Michael R. Baye & Casper G. de Vries, 1996. "The all-pay auction with complete information (*)," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 8(2), pages 291-305.
    4. Kvasov, Dmitriy, 2007. "Contests with limited resources," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 136(1), pages 738-748, September.
    5. Konrad, Kai Andreas & Kovenock, Daniel J., 2005. "Equilibrium and efficiency in the tug-of-war
      [Gleichgewicht und Effizienz im "Tug of War"]
      ," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2005-14, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    6. Clark, Derek J. & Riis, Christian, 2000. "Allocation efficiency in a competitive bribery game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 109-124, May.
    7. Konrad, Kai A. & Kovenock, Dan, 2009. "Multi-battle contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 256-274, May.
    8. Brian Roberson, 2006. "The Colonel Blotto game," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 29(1), pages 1-24, September.
    9. Gustav Feichtinger & Richard F. Hartl & Suresh P. Sethi, 1994. "Dynamic Optimal Control Models in Advertising: Recent Developments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(2), pages 195-226, February.
    10. Mattias Polborn, 2006. "Investment under Uncertainty in Dynamic Conflicts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(2), pages 505-529.
    11. Alex Robson, 2005. "Multi-Item Contests," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2005-446, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
    12. 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.
    13. Lien, Da-Hsiang Donald, 1990. "Corruption and allocation efficiency," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 153-164, July.
    14. Marinelli, Carlo, 2007. "The stochastic goodwill problem," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 176(1), pages 389-404, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Megidish, Reut & Sela, Aner, 2011. "Sequential Contests with Synergy and Budget Constraints," CEPR Discussion Papers 8383, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Aner Sela, 2016. "Two Stage Contests With Effort-Dependent Rewards," Working Papers 1612, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.
    3. repec:spr:reecde:v:21:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10058-017-0205-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Aner Sela, 2012. "Sequential two-prize contests," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 51(2), pages 383-395, October.
    5. repec:spr:sochwe:v:48:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s00355-017-1027-y is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Esteve-González, Patricia, 2016. "Moral hazard in repeated procurement of services," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 244-269.
    7. Aner Sela & Noam Cohen & Maor Guy, 2016. "Two-Stage Elimination Contests with Optimal Head Starts," Working Papers 1611, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.
    8. Sela, Aner, 2016. "Two-stage contests with effort-dependent rewards," CEPR Discussion Papers 11113, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Qiang Fu & Jingfeng Lu & Yue Pan, 2015. "Team Contests with Multiple Pairwise Battles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(7), pages 2120-2140, July.
    10. Aner Sela & Reut Megidish, 2012. "Sequential Contests With Synergy And Budget Constraints," Working Papers 1212, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.
    11. Anbarci, Nejat & Cingiz, Kutay & Ismail, Mehmet, 2018. "Multi-Battle n-Player Dynamic Contests," Research Memorandum 003, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    12. Aner Sela & Eyal Erez, 2013. "Dynamic contests with resource constraints," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 41(4), pages 863-882, October.

    More about this item


    Political campaigns; dynamic contests; elections; all-pay auction; war of attrition;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbmpg:spii200816. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.