Why Biased Endorsements Can Manipulate Elections

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2019-048/I

60 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2019 Last revised: 22 Oct 2020

See all articles by Junze Sun

Junze Sun

European University Institute

Arthur J. H. C. Schram

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB); Tinbergen Institute

Randolph Sloof

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics & Business (FEB); Tinbergen Institute

Date Written: October 21, 2020

Abstract

We study the electoral impact of biased endorsements in large Poisson elections with two candidates. Under fairly general conditions, we derive analytical approximations for the asymptotic voting equilibria. We show that, when the electorate is sufficiently polarized, manipulating public information about candidates' qualities can hardly affect the expected party vote shares from an ex-ante perspective. Nevertheless, such information manipulation can systematically affect the election outcome and voter turnout. We apply our framework to study the influence of the endorser's bias and the entry of new endorsers on the extent of electoral manipulation. With a single endorser, a rise in bias affects the election outcome in a non-monotonic way and reduces voter welfare. Importantly and surprisingly, manipulating election outcomes becomes easier, the larger is the electorate. Entry of a new endorser can systematically affect election outcomes and improve voter welfare in large elections if and only if the entrant is strictly less biased than all incumbents. Moreover, we show that entry can either systematically increase or decrease voter turnout, depending on the biases of entrant and incumbent endorsers.

Keywords: biased endorsements, voter turnout, Poisson games

JEL Classification: D72, D82, D83

Suggested Citation

Sun, Junze and Schram, Arthur J. H. C. and Sloof, Randolph, Why Biased Endorsements Can Manipulate Elections (October 21, 2020). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2019-048/I, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3420703 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3420703

Junze Sun (Contact Author)

European University Institute ( email )

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Arthur J. H. C. Schram

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB) ( email )

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Randolph Sloof

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics & Business (FEB) ( email )

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Tinbergen Institute ( email )

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