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A Theory of Policy Sabotage

Hirsch, Alexander V. and Kastellec, Jonathan P. (2019) A Theory of Policy Sabotage. Social Science Working Paper, 1453. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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We develop a theory of policy making that examines when policy sabotage—that is, the deliberate choice by an opposition party to interfere the implementation of a policy—can be an effective electoral strategy, even if rational voters can see that it is happening. In our model, a potential saboteur chooses whether to sabotage an incumbent's policy by blocking its successful implementation. Following this decision, a voter decides whether to retain the incumbent, who is of unknown quality, or to select a challenger.We find that the incentives for sabotage are broadly shaped by the underlying popularity of the incumbent—it is most attractive when an incumbent is somewhat unpopular.If so, sabotage may decrease the probability the incumbent is reelected, even though sabotage is observable to the voter. We illustrate our theory with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act since its passage in 2010.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemJournal Article
Hirsch, Alexander V.0000-0001-5166-9853
Kastellec, Jonathan P.0000-0002-7338-248X
Additional Information:We thank Peter Buisseret, Laura Doval, Sandy Gordon, Ian Turner, and Craig Volden, and seminar audiences at Emory, New York University Law School, and Yale for helpful comments and suggestions.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:1453
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210208-083207922
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:107945
Deposited By: Hanna Storlie
Deposited On:08 Feb 2021 21:49
Last Modified:29 Apr 2022 17:56

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