Reputation and Rhetoric in Elections


We analyze conditions under which campaign rhetoric may affect the beliefs of the voters over what policy will be implemented by the winning candidate of an election. We develop a model of repeated elections with complete information in which candidates are purely ideological. We analyze an equilibrium in which voters' strategies involve a credible threat to punish candidates who renege of their campaign promises, and all campaign promises are believed by voters, and honored by candidates. We characterize the maximal credible campaign promises and obtain that the degree to which promises are credible in equilibrium is an increasing function of the value of a candidate's reputation.