Electoral competition with privately-informed candidates

Dan Bernhardt, John Duggan, Francesco Squintani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper formulates and analyzes a general model of elections in which candidates receive private signals about voters' preferences prior to committing to political platforms. We fully characterize the unique pure-strategy equilibrium: After receiving her signal, each candidate locates at the median of the distribution of the median voter's location, conditional on the other candidate receiving the same signal. Sufficient conditions for the existence of pure strategy equilibrium are provided. Though the electoral game exhibits discontinuous payoffs for the candidates, we prove that mixed strategy equilibria exist generally, that equilibrium expected payoffs are continuous in the parameters of the model, and that mixed strategy equilibria are upper hemicontinuous. This allows us to study the robustness of the median voter theorem to private information: Pure strategy equilibria may fail to exist in models "close" to the Downsian model, but mixed strategy equilibria must, and they will be "close" to the Downsian equilibrium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalGames and Economic Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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