A Note on the Transfer of Power from Parties to Candidates
UC Davis Working Paper No. 97-23
Posted: 16 Mar 1998
Date Written: September 1997
It is commonly held that power has been transferred from political parties to candidates in the last fifty years, and that television is the cause. This paper constructs a game-theoretical model of political competition in which a technological innovation, like television, can have this effect. Political competition takes place between two teams, each consisting of a party and its candidate. The party is principal, the candidate, the agent. Each part have policy preferences (it is Left or Right); candidates, however, wish solely to maximize the probability of victory, net of effort costs. Parties use campaign finance to motivate candidates to expend effort. The party chooses a schedule according to which it invests in the campaign as a function of the policy the candidate announces. Equilibrium is Nash equilibrium between parties, where the strategies are schedules (functions) of campaign financing, where each party is constrained by the actions its agent (the candidate) will take.
A definition of power is proposed, and it is argued that television has changed the model parameters in such a way as to transfer power from parties to candidates.
JEL Classification: D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation