Extremist Platforms: Political Consequences of Profit-Seeking Media

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Abstract

We analyze how information about candidate quality affects the choice of electoral platforms made by an office-motivated political challenger. The incumbent is of known quality and located at the ideal policy of the voter. The voter cares for both policy and the candidates' quality and can learn about the challenger's quality by buying information. A high-quality challenger then has an incentive to signal her quality by choosing a policy that induces the voter to buy information. We first study the benchmark case in which the information is supplied exogenously, and its quality is independent of the challenger's platform; this yields multiple equilibria and indeterminacy of equilibrium platforms. By contrast, when the information is supplied by a profit-maximizing media outlet, its quality depends on the challenger's platform and we obtain a unique equilibrium platform. In particular, when the incumbent's quality is relatively low, the media coverage rises and the challenger's platform diverges further from the voter's ideal policy as the voter's preference for quality increases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Economic Review
Early online date24 Mar 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Mar 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics

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