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Strategic party heterogeneity

  • Author(s): Kernell, Georgia
  • et al.

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Political parties field heterogeneous candidates and send a variety of messages about their policy positions. Yet most voting models maintain that office-seeking parties should enforce intraparty homogeneity and cultivate clear party reputations. This article reconciles theory with reality by identifying a strategic rationale for parties to pursue heterogeneity. I develop a model in which two parties each select a distribution of potential candidates to compete in an upcoming election. The model demonstrates that well-positioned parties should indeed offer homogeneous candidate teams, but that parties with platforms distant from the median voter should cast a wide net. Extensions allow for multiple candidate signals, voters who care about party platforms and candidates’ positions, and voter uncertainty.

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