By Christopher Cotton, Queen’s University
An except from an article published in The Washington Post.
As the 2016 U.S. presidential hopefuls begin announcing their candidacies, Americans are readying themselves for more than a year and a half of political campaigning. That’s a long time. Long enough to perhaps cost $5 billion.
There are benefits to a long campaign season. As Calvin Coolidge said, “The purpose of a campaign is to send an intelligent and informed voter to the ballot box.” Campaigns may help inform voters and enable them to develop more accurate assessments of the candidates. Long campaigns have the potential to do this even more effectively.
But there is also a downside. In a new article (ungated here) Raphael Boleslavsky and I show that informative campaigns can also decrease the incentives for candidates to moderate their views. In other words, more informative campaigns encourage polarization between politicians, which tends to make voters worse off.