Competition between specialized candidates

Stefan Krasa, Mattias Polborn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Opposing candidates for a political office often differ in their professional backgrounds and previous political experience, leading to both real and perceived differences in political capabilities. We analyze a formal model in which candidates with different productivities in two policy areas compete for voters by choosing how much money or effort they would allocate to each area if elected. The model has a unique equilibrium that differs substantially from the standard median voter model. Although candidates compete for the support of a moderate voter type, this cutoff voter differs from the expected median voter. Moreover, no voter type except the cutoff voter is indifferent between the candidates in equilibrium. The model also predicts that candidates respond to changes in the preferences of voters in a very rigid way. From a welfare perspective, candidates are excessively moderate: almost certainly, a majority of voters would prefer that the winning candidate focus more on his or her strength.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-765
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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