Candidate Traits in Elections: When Good News for Selection is Bad News for Accountability

17 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2018 Last revised: 11 Dec 2018

See all articles by Keith E. Schnakenberg

Keith E. Schnakenberg

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science

Date Written: October 10, 2018

Abstract

We analyze a two-election political agency model with moral hazard and adverse selection in which candidates have observable traits such as job qualifications that help voters to imperfectly predict politicians' types. Candidate's traits can help voters select good types of politicians. However, selecting candidates with good traits can reduce accountability because the voter cannot commit to throw out politicians with good traits who produce bad outcomes. This result explains when and why voters may sometimes select candidates who they believe are less likely to be competent.

Keywords: political agency, candidate quality, electoral accountability, signaling

JEL Classification: D72, D86

Suggested Citation

Schnakenberg, Keith E., Candidate Traits in Elections: When Good News for Selection is Bad News for Accountability (October 10, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3214737 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3214737

Keith E. Schnakenberg (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science ( email )

One Brookings Drive
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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