Campaign contests Articles uri icon

publication date

  • August 2020

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 23


  • 127

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0014-2921

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-572X


  • I develop a formal model of political campaigns in which candidates choose how to distribute their resources over two different policy issues. I assume that campaigning on an issue has two simultaneous effects, both rooted in social and cognitive psychology: It increases the perceived quality of the advertising candidate in that issue (persuasion) and it makes the issue more salient (priming), thereby increasing the issue's perceived importance to the voters. I show that, unlike in the extant literature, interior pure strategy equilibria, in which every candidate campaigns on all issues, exist, if persuasion is sufficiently effective. However, candidates "specialize" by spending more than their contender on the issue, in which they hold a comparative advantage. Further, I show that an issue receives more aggregate spending, if it becomes more important or if voters' opinions on candidates' qualities in the issue become weaker. A candidate increases his vote share during the campaign contest, if he has a comparative advantage on the issue that receives more aggregate spending. The contest may therefore be biased in one candidate"s favor and an a priori less popular candidate might be the actual odds on favorite.


  • Economics


  • advertising; campaign spending; contests; electoral competition; priming