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Are voters cursed when politicians conceal policy preferences?

Nichole Szembrot ()
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Nichole Szembrot: Trinity College

Public Choice, 2017, vol. 173, issue 1, 25-41

Abstract: Abstract In campaigns, candidates often avoid taking positions on issues, concealing the policy preferences that would guide them if elected. This paper describes a novel explanation for ambiguity in political campaigns. It develops a model of candidate competition in which policy-motivated candidates can choose whether or not to announce their policy preferences to voters. It applies Eyster and Rabin’s (Econometrica 73(5):1623–1672, 2005) concept of cursed equilibrium, which allows for varying degrees of understanding of the connection between type (policy preference) and strategy (whether to announce). If voters updated according to Bayes’ rule, they would understand that candidates who do not announce positions are strategically concealing an unpopular policy preference. In equilibrium, only the most extreme candidates, those located furthest from the median voter’s position, would choose to take no position. However, if voters do not sufficiently appreciate the informational content of a non-announcement, unraveling will not occur and both extremists and more moderate candidates will not announce positions.

Keywords: Cursed equilibrium; Voting; Ambiguity; Incomplete information (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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