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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1154100
 
 

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Ambiguity and Extremism in Elections


Alberto F. Alesina


Harvard University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Richard Holden


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

July 1, 2008

Harvard Institute of Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 2157

Abstract:     
We analyze a model in which voters are uncertain about the policy preferences of candidates. Two forces affect the probability of electoral success: proximity to the median voter and campaign contributions. First, we show how campaign contributions affect elections. Then we show how the candidates may wish to announce a range of policy preferences, rather than a single point. This strategic ambiguity balances voter beliefs about the appeal of candidates both to the median voter and to the campaign contributors. If primaries precede a general election, they add another incentive for ambiguity, because in the primaries the candidates do not want to reveal too much information, to maintain some freedom of movement in the policy space for the general election. Ambiguity has an option value.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 28

Keywords: Elections, polarization of platforms, ambiguity, primaries

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Date posted: July 2, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Alesina, Alberto F. and Holden, Richard, Ambiguity and Extremism in Elections (July 1, 2008). Harvard Institute of Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 2157. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1154100 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1154100

Contact Information

Alberto F. Alesina
Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )
Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-8388 (Phone)
617-495-7730 (Fax)
Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Richard Holden
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )
E52-410
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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