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A Political Agency Model of Coattail Voting

By Galina Zudenkova

Abstract

In this paper, I provide a formal justi…cation for a well-established coattail effect, when a popular candidate at one branch of government attracts votes to candidates from the same political party for other branches of government. A political agency frame- work with moral hazard is applied to analyze coattails in simultaneous presidential and congressional elections. I show that coattail voting is a natural outcome of the optimal reelection scheme adopted by a representative voter to motivate politicians' efforts in a retrospective voting environment. I assume that an office-motivated politician (executive or congressman) prefers her counterpart to be affiliated with the same political party. This correlation of incentives leads the voter to adopt a joint performance evaluation rule, which is conditioned on the politicians belonging to the same party or different parties. The two-sided coattail effects then arise. On the one hand, the executive's suc- cess/failure props up/drags down her partisan ally in congressional election, which implies presidential coattails. On the other hand, the executive's reelection itself is affected by the congressman's performance, which results in reverse coattails. JEL classi…fication: D72, D86. Keywords: Coattail voting; Presidential coattails; Reverse coattails; Simultaneous elections; Political Agency; Retrospective voting.Eleccions, 32 - Política,

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