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Comparing Strategies in a Spatial Model of Electoral Competition

R. W. Hoyer and Lawrence S. Mayer
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 18, No. 3 (Aug., 1974), pp. 501-523
DOI: 10.2307/2110628
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2110628
Page Count: 23
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Comparing Strategies in a Spatial Model of Electoral Competition
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Abstract

Although the Davis-Hinich spatial model of majority rule is one of the most sophisticated models in axiomatic political theory, it requires that all voters use a common loss (utility) function in evaluating candidates. A model is introduced which eliminates this restriction and thus allows each voter to choose his own individual loss function as well as his preferred position. The Davis-Hinich model is described; several candidate strategies, including total median strategies and mean strategies, are defined and compared. Under the assumption of a common loss function for all voters it is shown that the total median strategy dominates in the sense that it can't be beaten under majority rule. The mean strategy is shown to be best in the sense that it minimizes societal loss but it is not a dominant campaign strategy unless it coincides with the total median strategy. Considering the more general model in which each voter is free to choose his loss function, a generalized total median strategy is defined and shown to be dominant under majority rule. The spatial strategy which minimizes societal loss is also derived. It is shown that without the restrictive assumption of a common loss function, the strategies which play a central role in the Davis-Hinich model are not optimal. For example, the mean strategy does not minimize societal loss and the total median strategy does not dominate under majority rule.

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