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Does Party Polarization Affect the Electoral Prospects of a New Centrist Candidate?

Arnaud Dellis

Games, 2022, vol. 13, issue 4, 1-20

Abstract: Does party polarization affect the electoral prospects of a new centrist candidate? The paper investigates this question in the context of a laboratory experiment where a centrist candidate is added to the race between a left candidate and a right candidate. The experimental design varies the polarization of the left and right candidates. The paper focuses on the effect of party polarization on the electoral prospects of a new centrist candidate through strategic voting behavior with experimental subjects acting as voters. The paper yields two main results: (1) party polarization initially improves the electoral prospects of a new centrist candidate; and (2) the effect of party polarization on the electoral prospects of the centrist weakens and ultimately disappears as elections are repeated. This happens because party polarization slows down the speed at which voters desert their candidate and vote strategically for the centrist in an apparent attempt at preventing the election of the candidate on the opposite side.

Keywords: polarization; strategic voting; centrist candidate; plurality voting; laboratory experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C C7 C70 C71 C72 C73 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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