Spatial Electoral Competition and Campaign Contributions with Informed and Uninformed Voters

Spatial Electoral Competition and Campaign Contributions with Informed and Uninformed Voters

1991Working Paper No. 1174

This paper presents a model of electoral competition in which candidates raise campaign contributions from interest groups by choosing policies that serve the interests of those groups and expend those contributions to influence uninformed voters. Informed voters, however, vote based on those policies, so candidates face a tradeoff between choosing a policy to generate contributions and choosing a policy to attract the informed vote. Policies are represented in a one-dimensional space, and electoral equilibria are characterized for two categories of policies: particularistic and collective. In the case of particularistic policies, the equilibrium policies of the candidates are separated if the proportion of uninformed voters is sufficiently high, and the degree of separation is an increasing function of that proportion. For all the variants of the model considered, the odds ratio for the election equals the ratio of the campaign contributions raised by the two candidates. For the case of collective policies, the candidates locate at the median of the ideal points of the informed voters and contributions are zero.