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Electoral imbalances and their consequences

Prato, Carlo and Wolton, Stephane (2018) Electoral imbalances and their consequences. Journal of Politics. ISSN 0022-3816

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Identification Number: 10.1086/698757

Abstract

It is widely believed that competitive elections are required for good democratic perfor- mance. Many races, however, see little electoral competition, due to asymmetries in voters' evaluation of candidates' quality (due, for example, to incumbency) and party labels (due, for example, to ideology). We study the consequences of both types of imbalances in a unified theoretical framework building on the notion that voters are rationally ignorant and need to pay costly attention to learn about candidates. Our paper rationalizes key empirical regu- larities such as the existence of large incumbency spending and electoral advantages or the heterogeneous effect of incumbency. Further, we highlight that properly accounting for voter attention is critical to interpreting empirical estimates of key determinants of electoral success, the sources of the incumbency advantage, and the causal effect of incumbency status. We also show that while depressing electoral competition, imbalances nonetheless improve voter wel- fare

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/toc/jop/current
Additional Information: © 2017 by the Southern Political Science Association
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Sets: Departments > Government
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2017 15:44
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2019 00:04
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/84660

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