Imperfectly Informed Voters and Strategic Extremism

Recognition Program

Authors: Enriqueta Aragonès and Dimitrios Xefteris

International Economic Review, Vol. 58, No 2, 439-471, May, 2017

We analyze a two-candidate Downsian model considering that voters use shortcuts (e.g., interest-group/media endorsements) to infer candidates' policy platforms. That is, voters do not observe candidates' exact platforms but only which candidate offers the more leftist/rightist platform (relative positions). In equilibrium, candidates' behavior tends to maximum extremism, but it may converge or diverge depending on how voters behave when indifferent policywise between the candidates. When the tie-breaking rule used by the voters is sufficiently fair, candidates converge to the extreme preferred by the median voter, but when it strongly favors a certain candidate, each candidate specializes in a different extreme.

This paper originally appeared as Barcelona GSE Working Paper 725
This paper is acknowledged by the Barcelona GSE Research Recognition Program