Targeted Campaign Competition, Loyal Voters, and Supermajorities
37 Pages Posted: 8 May 2017
Date Written: April 04, 2017
We consider campaign competition in which candidates compete for votes among a continuum of voters by engaging in persuasive efforts that are targetable. Each individual voter is persuaded by campaign effort and votes for the candidate who targets more persuasive effort to this voter. Each candidate chooses a level of total campaign effort and allocates their effort among the set of voters. We completely characterize equilibrium for the majoritarian objective game and compare that to the vote-share maximizing game. If the candidates are symmetric ex ante, both types of electoral competition dissipate the rents from office in expectation. However, the equilibria arising under the two electoral objectives qualitatively differ. In majoritarian elections, candidates randomize over their level of total campaign effort, which provides support for the puzzling phenomenon of the emergence of supermajorities in majoritarian systems. Vote-share maximization leads to an equilibrium in which both candidates make deterministic budget choices and reach a precise fifty-fifty split of vote shares. We also study how asymmetry between the candidates affects the equilibrium. If some share of the voters is loyal to one of the candidates, then both candidates expend the same expected efforts in equilibrium, but the advantaged candidate wins with higher probability for majoritarian voting or a higher share of voters for vote-share maximization.
Keywords: campaign competition, continuous general lotto game, vote buying, flexible budgets, supermajorities, loyal voters
JEL Classification: D720, D780, D820
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