Candidate Competition and Voter Learning in the 2000-2012 US Presidential Primaries

39 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2018

See all articles by George Deltas

George Deltas

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Economics

Mattias Polborn

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: September 10, 2018

Abstract

When candidates in primary elections are ideologically differentiated (e.g., conservatives and moderates in the Republican party), then candidates with similar positions affect each others' vote shares more strongly than candidates with different ideological positions. We measure this effect in U.S. Presidential primaries and show that it is of first order importance. We also show that voter beliefs about the candidates harden over the course of the primary, as manifested in the variability of candidate vote shares. We discuss models of sequential voting that cannot yield this pattern of results, and propose an explanation based on a model with horizontally and vertically differentiated candidates and incompletely informed voters. Consistent with the predictions of this model, we also show that, in more conservative states, low quality conservative candidates do better relative to high quality conservatives, and vice versa.

Keywords: Voting, primary elections, simultaneous versus sequential elections

JEL Classification: D72, D60

Suggested Citation

Deltas, George and Polborn, Mattias K., Candidate Competition and Voter Learning in the 2000-2012 US Presidential Primaries (September 10, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3247187 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3247187

George Deltas (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Economics ( email )

1206 South Sixth Street
450 Commerce West
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-333-4586 (Phone)
217-244-6678 (Fax)

Mattias K. Polborn

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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