Campaign finance levels as coordinating signals in three-way, experimental elections

Thomas Rietz*, Roger Myerson, Robert Weber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


If (often costly) election campaigns are simply advertising, they do not increase social welfare directly. Given this, should we limit campaign expenditures? We propose that costly campaigns can inform voters about the strength of candidates. This may increase welfare indirectly by helping voters avoid coordination failures. In laboratory elections, we study campaign finance levels as coordinating signals and compare them with our earlier work on polls. Both coordinate majority voters effectively, allowing them to stop Condorcet losers from winning. Finance levels were rational in that the total benefits of coordination exceeded the costs. Further, benefits of typical incremental contributions exceeded costs ex-post, while the next typical increment's benefits would not have.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-218
Number of pages34
JournalEconomics and Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics

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