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Political Awareness, Microtargeting of Voters, and Negative Electoral Campaigning

Burkhard Schipper and Hee Yeul Woo
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Hee Yeul Woo: Department of Economics, University of California Davis

No 228, Working Papers from University of California, Davis, Department of Economics

Abstract: We study the informational effectiveness of electoral campaigns. Voters may not think about all political issues and have incomplete information with regard to political positions of candidates. Nevertheless, we show that if candidates are allowed to microtarget voters with messages then election outcomes are as if voters have full awareness of political issues and complete information about candidate's political positions. Political competition is paramount for overcoming the voter's limited awareness of political issues but unnecessary for overcoming just uncertainty about candidates' political positions. Our positive results break down if microtargeting is not allowed or voters lack political reasoning abilities. Yet, in such cases, negative campaigning comes to rescue.

Keywords: Electoral competition; campaign advertising; multidimensional policy space; microtargeting; dog-whistle politics; negative campaigning; persuasion games; unawareness (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C72 D72 D82 P16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-gth, nep-mic and nep-pol
Date: 2017-05-01
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