Advertising competition in presidential elections

Brett R. Gordon*, Wesley R. Hartmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Presidential candidates purchase advertising based on each state’s potential to tip the election. The structure of the Electoral College concentrates spending in battleground states, such that a majority of voters are ignored. We estimate an equilibrium model of multimarket advertising competition between candidates that allows for endogenously determined budgets. In a Direct Vote counterfactual, we find advertising would be spread more evenly across states, but total spending levels can either decrease or increase depending on the contestability of the popular vote. Spending would increase by 13 % in the extremely narrow 2000 election, but would decrease by 54 % in 2004. These results suggest that the Electoral College greatly increases advertising spending in typical elections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-40
Number of pages40
JournalQuantitative Marketing and Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Advertising
  • Contest
  • Direct vote
  • Electoral college
  • Empirical game
  • Politics
  • Presidential election
  • Resource allocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'Advertising competition in presidential elections'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this