Candidate reputations and the 'incumbency effect'

Mark Daniel Bernhardt, Daniel E. Ingerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A major shortcoming of the classical median voter model is that its central prediction - convergence of platforms to the median voter's ideal - is seldom observed. One reason is that the classical model neglects the importance of voter expectations as a determinant of votes. Here we associate voters' expectations about candidates with past as well as current candidate pronouncements, and assume that incumbents whose actions are consistent with their 'reputations' are perceived as less risky than challengers. In equilibrium candidates choose distinct platforms. Typically neither adopts the median voter's ideal point. Either candidate may win depending on how well the incumbent's reputation reflects current voter tastes and how relatively 'risky' the electorate perceives the challenger to be.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-67
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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