Decisiveness of contributors' perceptions in elections

Rebecca B. Morton, Roger B. Myerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We consider a model of two-candidate elections with a one-dimensional policy space. Spending on campaign advertisements can directly influence voters' preferences, and contributors give the money for campaign spending in exchange for promised services if the candidate wins. We find that the winner of the election depends crucially on the contributors' beliefs about who is likely to win and the contribution market tends toward nonsymmetric equilibria in which one of the two candidates has no chance of winning. If the voters are only weakly influenced by advertising or if permissible campaign spending is small, then the candidates choose policies close to the median voter's ideal point, but the contributors still determine the winner. Uncertainty about the Condorcet winning point (or its nonexistence) can change these results and generate equilibria in which both candidates have substantial probabilities of winning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-590
Number of pages20
JournalEconomic Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Campaign spending
  • Electoral equilibria
  • Policy divergence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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