Information and Strategic Political Polarisation*



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 118, Issue 531, 1498, Article first published online: 14 August 2008

  • *

     We thank Enriqueta Aragonés, Isabelle Brocas, Benoit Crutzen, Per Krusell, Johan Lagerlöf, Gérard Roland, Howard Rosenthal, Loïc Sadoulet, Nicolas Sahuguet, Raphael Thomadsen, two anonymous referees, the editor and seminar participants at the CEPR workshop in Hydra, the EEA conference in Venice, Columbia, Rochester and ULB for comments and discussions. Micael Castanheira is a member of ECORE, the newly created association between CORE and ECARES. He is ‘Chercheur Qualifié du FNRS’ and gratefully acknowledges their financial support.


We develop a model of electoral competition in which two opportunistic candidates select their policy position and invest in quality. Policy positions are observed and, during the campaign, the press reveals some information about quality. We demonstrate that when information is imperfect, the Black-Downs median voter theorem fails to hold. For intermediate information levels, the unique equilibrium is such that candidates propose policies different from the median voter's bliss point. By contrast, convergence to the median occurs when quality is (almost) always or (almost) never revealed. We also show that a profit-maximising press may collect more information than socially optimal.