For a succinct overview of my research agenda, view my research statement.
I analyze the effects of policy vetting on a politician’s incentive to implement her proposal. In my model, the voter and the politician are uncertain both about the politician’s competence and whether her proposal is good for the voter. Vetting provides a public signal about the probability the policy will benefit the voter. More competent politicians are more likely to propose good policies, so the voter can use the results of vetting to update his beliefs about the politician’s competence. I find that the politician is only willing to take a risk by implementing her policy when the beliefs about her are sufficiently poor. Consequently, public vetting can create a perverse incentive for the politician to implement her policy proposal only if it is sufficiently unlikely to help the voter. If only the politician observes the results of vetting, she implements her policy only when its expected outcome is sufficiently high, because her policy information does not directly affect the voter’s beliefs about her. Consequently, public vetting may impede efficient policymaking and leave voters worse off.
“Two Candidate Competition on Differentiated Policy Sets”
Complete, Under Review at Games and Economic Behavior
In the classic spatial model of office-motivated candidate competition, equilibrium exists only if the distribution of voter ideal points has a total median, a condition which is virtually never met. However, in the classic model, both candidates can propose policies anywhere in policy space, and this is a crucial element in proving the necessity of that condition. If each candidate may only propose policies from a subset of policy space, does an equilibrium exist more generally? I consider a model in which each of two office-motivated candidates proposes a policy from a distinct policy set. When the policy sets are convex and one does not contain the proposed equilibrium policy, it need not be the case that the proposed policy is a total median, because any competing proposal must be at least some positive distance away, and may only lie in certain directions; hence, the conditions of Plott do not apply. Instead, it is only necessary for each median hyperplane to lie in a given halfspace formed by the hyperplane separating the proposed equilibrium from the closest policy the opponent can propose. The intersection of all of the halfspaces is the set of guaranteed supporters of the equilibrium policy, that is, the set of voters for whom the equilibrium policy is closer than any alternative the opposing candidate can propose. Hence, the requirement on the median hyperplanes for the proposed policy to be an equilibrium is that one can choose a median voter on each median hyperplane to be a guaranteed supporter of the proposed policy.
“Campaigning to Persuade”
Draft available upon request.
During elections, enormous amounts of information about the candidate’s policies are generated by third parties, which may potentially convince the voter to prefer one position or another. In this paper, I consider the effects of such information on the equilibrium position of the candidates. Because the information generated during the campaign depends upon the positions taken by the candidates, rational candidates choose policies to maximize the probability that they are ex-post preferred to their opponent. In the context of a race between an incumbent and a challenger, I show that this prospect for persuasion may imply convergence is not a best response, because the challenger may benefit electorally from the information generated by a campaign between different proposals. Further, I show that the extent of divergence is increasing in the dispersion of the voter’s beliefs.