Flip-Flopping, Intense Primaries and the Selection of Candidates
California Institute of Technology
December 1, 2011
We present a 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 rather infer the candidates' ideologies from signals made during the campaign (debates, speeches), where a larger number of signals corresponds to a higher-intensity campaign. This model captures two patterns: (1) 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 (2) the "divisive-primary effect," which refers to the detrimental effect of intense primaries on a party's general-election prospects. These effects are obtained in spite of the fact that primary voters are forward-looking and take into account that a more extreme candidate has a smaller chance of winning the general election than a moderate one does.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: primaries, signaling, selection of candidates
JEL Classification: D2, D72working papers series
Date posted: March 29, 2012
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