Support for Political Leaders

norman schofield (washington university)
evan schnidman (harvard university)
maria gallego (wilfrid laurier university, waterloo, canada)

Abstract: Previous empirical research has developed stochastic electoral models for Britain, the United States Israel, and other polities. The work suggests that convergence to an electoral center (often predicted by electoral models) is a non-generic phenomenon. In an attempt to explain non-convergence, a formal model based on activist valence is presented. Since activists provide crucial resources of time and money to their chosen party, the party can use these resources to enhance its image before the electorate, thus affecting its overall valence. The theoretical result presented in this paper is a (first order) balance condition which encapsulates the logic of this trade off. It is possible to infer conditions under which there will exist a "Nash equilibrium" of party positions. The theoretical model is complemented with a comparison of elections in polities with plurality electoral systems such as the United States, Canada and Britain in contrast to those with proportional systems such as Israel, Turkey and Poland. Finally, we discuss political choice in non-democratic regimes.

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