Information and Extremism in Elections

40 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2013 Last revised: 10 Oct 2013

See all articles by Raphael Boleslavsky

Raphael Boleslavsky

University of Miami - School of Business Administration - Department of Economics

Christopher Cotton

Queen's University, Department of Economics

Date Written: October 9, 2013

Abstract

We model an election in which parties nominate candidates with observable policy preferences prior to a campaign that produces information about candidate quality, a characteristic independent of policy. Informative campaigns lead to greater differentiation in expected candidate quality, which undermines policy competition. In equilibrium, as campaigns become more informative, candidates become more extreme. We identify conditions under which the costs associated with extremism dominate the benefits of campaign information. Informative political campaigns increase political extremism and can decrease voter welfare. Our results have implications for media coverage, the number of debates, and campaign finance reform.

Keywords: campaigns, elections, persuasion, policy divergence, probabilistic voting

JEL Classification: D72, D83

Suggested Citation

Boleslavsky, Raphael and Cotton, Christopher, Information and Extremism in Elections (October 9, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2274208 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2274208

Raphael Boleslavsky

University of Miami - School of Business Administration - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 248126
Coral Gables, FL 33124-6550
United States

Christopher Cotton (Contact Author)

Queen's University, Department of Economics ( email )

Dunning Hall 230
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.christophercotton.ca

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