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Hiding Information in Electoral Competition

By Paul Heidhues and Johan Lagerlöf


We model a two-candidate electoral competition in which there is uncertainty about a policy-relevant state of the world. The candidates receive private signals about the true state, which are imperfectly correlated. We study whether the candidates are able to credibly communicate their information to voters through their choice of policy platforms. Our results show that the fact that private information is dispersed between the candidates creates a strong incentive for them to bias their messages toward the electorate\u92s prior. Information transmission becomes more difficult, the less correlated are the candidates\u92 signals, the lower is the signals\u92 quality, and the stronger is the electorate\u92s prior. Indeed, for weak priors welfare decreases as the prior becomes stronger, and welfare always decreases as the signals become less correlated

Topics: JEL classi…cation, D72, D78, D82 Keywords, Electoral competition, Information transmission, Cheap talk, Opportunism, Public opinion, Correlation
Year: 2001
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