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Uncertainty and the Formal Theory of Political Campaigns

Ferejohn, John A. and Noll, Roger G. (1976) Uncertainty and the Formal Theory of Political Campaigns. Social Science Working Paper, 75. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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Many empirical investigations indicate that information is scarce and therefore costly to holders and seekers of public office. Indeed, some studies suggest that imperfect information may account for important aspects of the behavior of politicians. Nevertheless, there is as yet no theoretical investigation of political decision making that illustrates the impact of costly information or behavior. In this paper the authors develop a model of electoral competition in which the candidates are only imperfectly aware of public preferences over issues and in which they may have the opportunity to increase the amount of information they hold at some cost. It turns out that the absence of perfect information profoundly affects the strategic structure of candidate competition. If information is costless, two-party electoral contests are naturally modeled as symmetric two-person zero-sum games. However, if candidates have distinct beliefs about voter behavior, the natural game-theoretic representation becomes a non-zero-sum game. This article is concerned mostly with analyzing the consequences of this transformation.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
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Additional Information:Revised. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 1974 Mathematical Social Science Board Workshop on "Uncertainty, Political Processes and Public Policy." We are grateful for the comments and encouragement provided by Morris Fiorina, David Grether, Melvin Hinich, Richard McKelvey, Charles Plott, William Riker, Norman Schofield, Kenneth Shepsle, and an anonymous referee. We are also grateful to John Allen and Barry Weingast for research assistance. Published as Ferejohn, John A., and Roger G. Noll. "Uncertainty and the formal theory of political campaigns." American Political Science Review 72.2 (1978): 492-505.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Subject Keywords:Political candidates, Polls, Political campaigns, Electorate, Payoff matrix, Military strategy, Prisoners dilemma, Political elections, Voting
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:75
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20171031-133712634
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:82807
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:31 Oct 2017 20:52
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:58

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