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Flip-Flopping, Primary Visibility, and the Selection of Candidates

Agranov, Marina (2016) Flip-Flopping, Primary Visibility, and the Selection of Candidates. American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 8 (2). pp. 61-85. ISSN 1945-7669. doi:10.1257/mic.20130036.

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We present an incomplete information model of two-stage elections in which candidates can choose different platforms in primaries and general elections. Voters do not directly observe the chosen platforms, but infer the candidates’ ideologies from observing candidates’ campaigns. The ability of voters to detect candidates’ types depends on the visibility of the race. This model captures two patterns: the post-primary moderation effect, in which candidates pander to the party base during the primary and shift to the center in the general election; and the divisive-primary effect, which refers to the detrimental effect of hard-fought primaries on a party's general-election prospects.

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Additional Information:© 2016 American Economic Association. I would like to thank Andrew Schotter and Alessandro Lizzeri for the invaluable help and encouragement they have provided during the course of this project. I thank Alex Agranov for suggesting the idea for this paper. I also thank Matt Elliott, Elliott Ash, Mark Dean, Matthew Embrey, Guillaume Frechette, Alessandro Gavazza, Anna Ingster, Daniel Martin, Rebecca Morton, Nicola Persico, Pietro Ortoleva, Debraj Ray, Ofer Setty, Chloe Tergiman, Emanuel Vespa, and seminar participants at New York University for their useful comments.
Issue or Number:2
Classification Code:JEL: D11, D72, D83
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160601-080258744
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Official Citation:Agranov, Marina. 2016. "Flip-Flopping, Primary Visibility, and the Selection of Candidates." American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 8(2): 61-85
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:67512
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:01 Jun 2016 20:39
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 00:33

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