Competence and ambiguity in electoral competition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The level of competence that voters attribute to different candidates is an important determinant of election results. In addition, it is observed that some candidates tend to be more ambiguous in their campaigns regarding future plans, while others commit to specific policies. We offer a model where politicians who vary in their level of competence compete by making costly campaign declarations. We show that a separating equilibrium exists in which the ambiguity of a candidate's campaign declaration reveals her level of competence. The model explains how politicians may use an "issue"-based campaign to create a competent image, and provides an additional explanation for different levels of campaign ambiguity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-234
Number of pages16
JournalPublic Choice
Volume159
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ambiguity
  • Commitment
  • Competence
  • Electoral competition

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