Optimal Timing of Policy Announcements in Dynamic Election Campaigns

Optimal Timing of Policy Announcements in Dynamic Election Campaigns

By
Yuichiro Kamada, Takuo Sugaya
The Quarterly Journal of Economics. August
2020, Vol. 135, Issue 3, Pages 1725–1797

We construct a dynamic model of election campaigns. In the model, opportunities for candidates to refine/clarify their policy positions are limited and arrive stochastically along the course of the campaign until the predetermined election date. We show that this simple friction leads to rich and subtle campaign dynamics. We first demonstrate these effects in a series of canonical static models of elections that we extend to dynamic settings, including models with valence and a multidimensional policy space. We then present general principles that underlie the results from those models. In particular, we establish that candidates spend a long time using ambiguous language during the election campaign in equilibrium.