Voters' private valuation of candidates' quality

Authors: Enriqueta Aragonès and Dimitrios Xefteris

Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 156, 121-130, December, 2017

Different voters might have different valuations of candidates' qualitative features. We argue that this intuitive fact acts as a strong stabilizing force in electoral competition dynamics when candidates are office motivated (pure strategy equilibria may exist, unlike when all voters favor the same candidate). Perhaps more importantly, it affects candidates' platform moderation incentives in a rather intriguing manner. When voters are evenly split, in terms of their candidates' quality valuations, then both candidates have incentives to locate . sufficiently near - but not necessarily exactly at - the center of the policy space. However, as the number of voters who favor the same candidate rises, (maximum) equilibrium differentiation follows a non-trivial . U-shaped pattern. It is first decreasing and then increasing in the fraction of voters who prefer the more popular candidate.

This paper originally appeared as Barcelona GSE Working Paper 858