Econometrica: Sep 1975, Volume 43, Issue 5

Policy Related Voting and Electoral Equilibrium

https://doi.org/0012-9682(197509/11)43:5/6<815:PRVAEE>2.0.CO;2-6
p. 815-844

Richard D. McKelvey

This paper considers the impact of certain types of policy related voting patterns on the existence and location of equilibrium strategies in the spatial model of two-candidate competition. In contrast to much of the previous literature, this paper makes a distinction between the aggregate level patterns of voting and the individual level variables which bring them about. By so doing the assumptions can focus on objects which have a more direct empirical referent, namely, the aggregate level support function and the distribution of ideal points. Using this approach, sufficient conditions are found for the existence of equilibrium which, although themselves strong, make considerably weaker demands on individuals than have been generally assumed in the literature. Thus, it is not necessary that each voter vote strictly with regard to policy but, rather, it is sufficient that in the electorate as a whole there is a moderate amount of policy related voting. Other results of the analysis are that policy related voting of any type seems to encourage candidates to converge towards the center, with support from extremists only accentuating this tendency. It is the candidate's most loyal supporters who seem to have the least influence over his policy position.

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