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Twain's Law of Politics

William Dougan and Ivette Jans
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Ivette Jans: University of Nebraska

Rationality and Society, 1993, vol. 5, issue 4, 518-536

Abstract: This article models the electoral process as a game of incomplete information in which voters choose between candidates on the basis of the likelihood that each will fulfill the campaign promises made. The electorate's uncertainty about the future behavior of its representatives means that some candidates will win seats even though they are not committed to performing as promised. Moreover, because such candidates have more actions available to them than do their honest counterparts, they enjoy an electoral advantage until voters have acquired full information about them. This advantage makes a political career more attractive to dishonest individuals than to honest members of the same occupational class, so that dishonest people will tend disproportionately to enter politics.

Date: 1993
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DOI: 10.1177/1043463193005004007

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