Project 1: My first area of research is candidate differentiation on the basis of what positions may be taken. Since candidates come into political competition with party affiliations that restrain what positions they may hold, they can only promise from a subset of the overall policy space. This kind of restriction helps to reverse some of the classic “instability” results, allowing for equilibrium existence even when there is no total median or symmetry. It also delivers interesting comparative statics. For example, when voters become more extreme in their opinions, it is actually up to the candidate to choose whether to take advantage of this change- if their old position allowed them to win, then they can still win with that position. Electoral incentives alone are not enough to motivate extreme policy promises- that requires some ulterior preference on the part of the candidates.
This paper is currently under revision, and will be posted again when complete.
Project 2: If an incumbent politician did not have any private information, and all of his or her actions were observable, would that necessarily imply that they act efficiently, taking a risky action only when it is appropriate? I find that when the decision maker is concerned about his or her reputation relative to others, the answer is generically no- for decision makers with a high reputation, for whom enacting policy has positive expected value, there is little to gain in terms of further reputation, as they are already at a high percentile of the distribution, and a lot to lose if things don’t pan out. By contrast, a decision maker with a low initial reputation has little to lose and a lot to gain, causing them to implement the policy despite its negative expected value. By eliminating the classic causes of inefficiency in incumbent decision making, we are able to highlight an issue unique to, and inherent to, the political environment.
Draft in progress.