Political competition between differentiated candidates

Stefan Krasa, Mattias K. Polborn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We introduce a framework of electoral competition in which voters have general preferences over candidates' immutable characteristics (such as gender, race or previously committed policy positions) as well as their policy positions, which are flexible. Candidates are uncertain about the distribution of voter preferences and choose policy positions to maximize their winning probability.We characterize a property of voter utility functions ("uniform candidate ranking", UCR) that captures a form of separability between fixed characteristics and policy. When voters have UCR preferences, candidates' equilibrium policies converge in any strict equilibrium. In contrast, notions like competence or complementarity lead to non-UCR preferences and policy divergence. In particular, we introduce a new class of models that contains the probabilistic voting model as a special case and in which there is a unique equilibrium that generically features policy divergence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-271
Number of pages23
JournalGames and Economic Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Multidimensional policy
  • Political competition
  • Voting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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