Manipulated Voters in Competitive Election Campaigns
48 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2013
We provide a game-theoretical model of manipulative election campaigns with two political candidates and a continuum of Bayesian voters. Voters are uncertain about candidate positions, which are exogenously given and lie on a unidimensional policy space. Candidates take unobservable, costly actions to manipulate a campaign signal that would otherwise be fully informative about a candidate’s distance from voters relative to the other candidate. We show that if the candidates differ in campaigning efficiency, and voters receive the manipulated signal with an individual, random noise, then the cost-efficient candidate wins the election even if she is more distant from the electorate than her opponent is. In contrast to the existing election campaign models that do not support information manipulation in equilibrium, our paper rationalizes misleading political advertising and suggests that limits on campaign spending may potentially improve the quality of information available to the electorate. Finally, we show that strategic voting, where voters consider what other voters do, do not eliminate manipulation.
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