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Electoral Competition with Privately-Informed Candidates

Bernhardt, Dan and Duggan, John and Squintani, Francesco (2003) Electoral Competition with Privately-Informed Candidates. Social Science Working Paper, 1168. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA.

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We consider a model of elections in which two office-motivated candidates receive private signals about the location of the median voter's ideal point prior to taking policy positions. We show that at most one pure strategy equilibrium exists and provide a sharp characterization, if one exists: After receiving a signal, each candidate locates at the median of the distribution of the median voter's location, conditional on the other candidate receiving the same signal. It follows that a candidate's position, conditional on his/her signal, is a biased estimate of the true median, with candidate positions tending to the extremes of the policy space. We provide sufficient conditions for the existence of a pure strategy equilibrium. Essentially, the pure strategy equilibrium exists if for each signal, the other candidate is sufficiently likely to receive a signal in the same direction that is at least as extreme. Though the electoral game exhibits discontinuous payoffs for the candidates, we prove that mixed strategy equilibria exist generally, that equilibrium expected payoffs are continuous in the parameters of the model, and that mixed strategy equilibria are upper hemicontinuous. We investigate the robustness of the median voter theorem to private information: Pure strategy equilibria may fail to exist in models close to the Downsian model, but mixed strategy equilibria must, and they will be "close" to the Downsian equilibrium. Finally, we provide bounds on the support of mixed strategy equilibria and restrictions on possible atoms of equilibrium mixed strategies.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
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Additional Information:We thank Jean-Francois Mertens for helpful discussions during his visit to the Wallis Institute of Political Economy at the University of Rochester. The paper also benefited from discussions with Roger Myerson and Tom Palfrey. The second author gratefully acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation, grant number SES-0213738. Published as Bernhardt, D., Duggan, J., & Squintani, F. (2007). Electoral competition with privately-informed candidates. Games and Economic Behavior, 58(1), 1-29.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:elections, median voter, polling, private information, probabilistic voting
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:1168
Classification Code:JEL: D72, D78
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170801-142748283
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:79704
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:01 Aug 2017 22:43
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:23

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