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The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics

Editor-in-Chief: Schipper, Burkhard

Ed. by Fong, Yuk-fai / Peeters, Ronald / Puzzello , Daniela / Rivas, Javier / Wenzelburger, Jan

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Bad Government Can Be Good Politics: Political Reputation, Negative Campaigning, and Strategic Shirking

Deborah Fletcher1 / Steven Slutsky2

1Miami University,

2University of Florida,

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics. Volume 10, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1935-1704, DOI: 10.2202/1935-1704.1580, May 2010

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We develop a model of a contest between two political candidates who may care about their reputations separately from how they affect the election outcome. In the game's first stage, each candidate chooses to maintain his maximum reputation or to shirk to lower it. In the second stage, candidates undertake positive or negative campaigns. We allow the magnitudes of reputational effects of positive and negative campaigns, and the relative importance candidates place on reputation and winning, to vary. Under many parameter values, candidates shirk in order to either decrease negative campaigning in the second stage or to increase their probability of winning the election. This result persists even when some of the main assumptions of the model are relaxed.

Keywords: negative campaigning; shirking

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