American Economic Review: Vol. 97 No. 3 (June 2007)


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Signaling Character in Electoral Competition

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Kartik, Navin, and R. Preston McAfee. 2007. "Signaling Character in Electoral Competition." American Economic Review, 97(3): 852-870.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.3.852


We study a one-dimensional Hotelling-Downs model of electoral competition with the following innovation: a fraction of candidates have "character" and are exogenously committed to a campaign platform; this is unobservable to voters. Character is desirable, and a voter's utility is a convex combination of standard policy preferences and her assessment of a candidate's character. This structure induces a signaling game between strategic candidates and voters, since a policy platform affects voters' utilities not only directly, but also indirectly through inferences about a candidate's character. The model generates a number of predictions, starting with a failure of the median voter theorem. (JEL D72, D82)

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Kartik, Navin
McAfee, R. Preston

American Economic Review

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